Parking hassles plague game days

Daniel Carpenter, Parking Director, aims to provide enough space for all drivers.

Story and photos by Caleb Dohmen, NewsNetNebraska

Soon after arriving at UNL this year, freshman Charlie Sullivan learned some hard lessons about parking – no warnings, parking signs that seem confusing and a shortage of spots on football game days. The result: a $30 fine after he parked in the wrong spot.

“I felt that was a little cold. It was the first few weeks of me even living in Lincoln,” complained Sullivan, an electrical-engineering major from Kansas City, Mo. “It is unclear what parking pass gets you into what lot, and even then a warning would have sufficed.”

But parking authorities on campus contend things are getting better. They have been adding garage and lot space, such as a lot at the newest dorm, Knoll Hall, and a parking deck at 19th and Vine Sts. And they are stepping up enforcement of the rule clearing out lots by 10 p.m. on the nights before game days.

Dan Carpenter, who is the director of parking services here at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says his job is to make things better. Making sure there are enough spaces for game days is a big part of that.

He said parking decks are helping. “Large parking structures allow us to maximize space that is not realized on surface parking lots,” he said. He added that such decks let the university accommodate far more drivers.

The fines that people such as Sullivan pay for parking improperly help make such improvements possible. University parking authorities collected $461,000 from citations last year, Carpenter said.

The amount of money varies from year to year. “It has to do with how many spots we have available,” Carpenter said. “The more construction we have the less spots are available.”

The citations help fund new parking garages, maintain old ones and improve the existing facilities.

Many lots are set aside for game-day parkers only.

Game days are major enforcement challenges for Carpenter’s team.

The enforcement officials close commuter lots on campus at 10 p.m. on Fridays before game days. Carpenter said this is because the university wants to accommodate fans and employees who come to work at the game. He said that sometimes the workers for the games will show up as early as 2 a.m., depending on what time the game starts.

Some areas are set aside for such workers, while others are reserved for donors and permit-holders. Donors can get parking passes, depending on how much they give. Such donor spots account for most of the places to park on campus on game days.

The other sections belong to people who have a parking permits for the campus, such as a commuter pass. They can park in any commuter lot, or green lots, as they are called. There are also a few lots for the faculty that will work at the games, red lots, as they are called. And there is also spaces where people can pay $15 to park on game days.

Parking improperly can bring a fine on game days.

The public parking lots have cashiers and staffers who monitor every lot to make sure people who park there are eligible. People are allowed to start parking six hours before a game, but as Carpenter said, ones that have a little more pull or know the right people might get in before that. “We feel that six hours is plenty of time for people to start parking for the games,” he said.

But the donor lots are for donors alone. Carpenter said lot enforcement officers will cite someone for parking improperly in such lots and will tow their cars. The university must tow, he added, because donors paid to park there, and have a right to their spots.

Students need to pay attention to where they are dropping their cars when the Huskers play. Otherwise, they could wind up like Charlie Sullivan.

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