Aug. 4-17, 2000
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Football game-day parking plan unveiled

By Dan Heuchert

With the expanded Carl Smith Center nearly ready for its Sept. 2 debut, a committee of University and city officials has formulated a master parking plan identifying approximately 4,000 new spaces, both on Grounds and in downtown Charlottesville, to serve Cavalier football fans.

The project to expand the stadium by 16,000 seats includes a new 600-vehicle parking garage, but those spaces alone will be inadequate to handle the increased demand.

"There is no magic wand that will make it as easy for 60,000-plus spectators to get to the games as it was when we were lucky to draw 20,000 people to games," said Terry Holland, director of athletics. "The current plan is a good one and is the result of a lot of hard work, but it will take cooperation from everyone to make it work."

The committee plans to review the parking plan after every home game and update it as necessary.

The biggest change fans will encounter is the shift of football shuttle bus service from University Hall to the downtown area. The Charlottesville Parking Center (CPC) will provide discounted access to its 1,000 spaces in the East Market Street and Water Street parking garages, with continuous shuttle service to and from the stadium provided jointly by the Charlottesville and University transit services. A 200-space overflow lot will also be available.

The new shuttle bus drop-off at the stadium will be on McCormick Road, between the Chemistry Building and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, providing nearly direct access to the stadium's new east gate. Downtown, fans can catch the shuttle at any Charlottesville Transit Service stop along Market and Water streets.

A season parking pass for the six-game home schedule is available for $18 (write to: Virginia Football Parking, P.O. Box 400833, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4833), and a round-trip shuttle ticket will cost $2 per person, payable on the inbound trip. Thus, a family of four parking downtown will pay just $11 per game for parking and transportation. In past years, the same family would have to pay $20 to park and ride from U-Hall, at $5 per round-trip ticket.

CTS started a downtown shuttle last season on an experimental basis, with excellent results. An average of seven people rode the shuttle for each CPC parking space filled, indicating that many football fans either walked to the shuttle stops from their homes or found on-street or private parking nearby, said CTS director Helen Poore. By contrast, U.Va. Parking and Transportation assistant director Rebecca White estimated that of the 6,000 fans who typically parked at U-Hall, about 4,500 chose to walk to the stadium rather than take the shuttle.

Other, closer-in parking options include:

  • University Hall (2,000 spaces). U-Hall will continue to be available at no charge. The walk to the stadium along Alderman Road or Emmet Street is approximately one mile, and should be safer this year. With the shuttle coming from downtown, bus traffic along Alderman Road should be lessened, and University officials hope to restrict all northbound traffic on the road immediately after each game to further protect pedestrians.

  • North Grounds (800 spaces). The lots near the Law and Darden schools are about a 30-minute walk from the stadium. There will be a designated area there for fans with disabilities, with free shuttle service to and from the stadium.

  • Fontaine Research Park (1,200 spaces). Located on Fontaine Avenue near U.S. 29, the park offers free parking with excellent access for out-of-town fans arriving via Interstate 64. A surfaced path, leading through the woods across from the research park and connecting to Stadium Road, will cut the walk to about one mile; the path will be lighted and patrolled on game days, and police will direct traffic to allow pedestrians to cross Fontaine Avenue safely.

  • U.Va. Medical Center garage (1,000 spaces). A season pass at the new facility will cost $36, but the easy 15-minute walk is only about three-quarters of a mile along Jefferson Park Avenue.

  • Central Grounds parking garage (400 spaces). An approximately 10-minute walk from the stadium, game-day parking there costs $1.30 per hour (and 65 cents per hour after 5 p.m).

The Virginia Student Aid Foundation will continue to control the 3,100 spaces closest to the stadium, including the new parking garage, for use by its most generous supporters.

In total, the master plan identifies more than 9,000 official spaces. Even with a projected student attendance of between 8,000 and 12,000 per game -- the vast majority of whom walk to the stadium -- it is clear that the increased stadium capacity will tax the city's public and private parking resources.

"We suggest that Cavalier fans plan to car-pool," said University Police Chief Michael Sheffield. "Please allow extra time to find parking, especially for the first few games while new patterns are established."

See photo of the new clock tower at the Carl Smith Center


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