UM football game today likely to have students scrambling for parking

Lots restricted as crowds gather for Virginia match

November 13, 2003|By Alec MacGillis and Adrienne Saunders | Alec MacGillis and Adrienne Saunders,SUN STAFF

Several thousand University of Maryland commuter students will have their usual parking spots appropriated today for use by fans attending tonight's football game, prompting some professors to cancel or postpone afternoon and evening classes.

The sold-out, 7:45 p.m. game between UM and the University of Virginia - held on a Thursday night because of an ESPN broadcast - is a logistical quandary for the university. Thousands of students and employees will be leaving the College Park campus just as thousands of fans are arriving for tailgating parties.

University parking officials have alerted students that one lot will be closed all day, with commuters directed to a nearby garage that is often full. Students must leave three other lots, including one with 2,417 spaces, by 4 p.m. Those lots will stop allowing student entry at 11:30 a.m.

The lots will be used mainly by fans with parking permits issued by the athletic department, including members of the Terrapin Club, a sports booster group, said UM spokeswoman Cassandra Robinson.

"We've developed a comprehensive plan to deal with the situation and that includes some shifting of students to other lots," she said. "Every effort was made to assure that students would be able to get to class." The televised, midweek game is the fourth in five years.

Robinson said the registrar's office had rescheduled classes for some professors who worried that students would be unable to reach their classrooms today. Faculty members were notified about the game during the summer and urged to adjust their syllabus if they foresaw problems, she said.

Supervisors in some campus offices have permission to send employees home early to free up space, Robinson added.

The closing of the lots has upset some commuter students, who pay $152 a year for permits, said student government President Tim Daly. "This happens every year. I don't know why the university does this," he said. "I understand it's good for the football program, but it's a pain for everyone else."

To handle the nearly 52,000 fans expected at Byrd Stadium, officials are considering the unprecedented step of using the lawns in front of the university chapel and the president's mansion, which can hold 1,000 cars each, said David Allen, director of transportation services.

Fans are urged to use campus shuttles or the Washington Metro, which, at UM's request, will be open two hours later than usual. The $32,000 cost for the extra hours will be picked up by the athletic department, said Kathleen Worthington, executive senior associate athletic director.

"I think we're doing a better job managing it," she said. "Our fans and our students are getting used to it and learning better how they need to respond to it on a Thursday night."

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