Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour acknowledged there’ll be some growing pains this season with the new football parking setup around Beaver Stadium, but she said the university is taking steps to ease fans into the transition.
For one, she said, the university will soon unveil a campaign titled “#RunYourRoute” that will help fans find the routes to their parking spaces.
“To really help folks to understand exactly what it is, we’re partnering with some technology to be able to help those that are technologically savvy enough,” she said Friday morning during Big Ten media days. “You punch in, ‘Here’s my parking lot.’ And this is the route — run your route — to get there.”
Among the biggest changes to the parking this season are a four-zone system and accompanying one-way traffic patterns that might prevent some fans from using the usual route to their parking spot. That’s bound to create some confusion — Barbour acknowledged as much — but Penn State officials are hopeful the short-term challenges will be worth it in the end, once the fan base gets used to the changes.
“Will there be some challenges? Of course, there absolutely will be,” Barbour said. “But, No. 1, I’m exceedingly confident in the intelligence of our community to be able to pick this up. And then, secondly, I’m even more confident that once we settle into this, I think folks will absolutely see this is a solution to some of our challenges of trying to put 107,000-whatever-number-of-cars into a relatively small area.”
Parking became a growing issue last year when record rainfall closed some lots and put more strain on others. Traffic was worse than usual and, as a result, Barbour said the university has explored a number of other improvements.
Although paving lots is unrealistic — “We’ve got cows that occupy most of those most of the time, and intramural soccer players that occupy some number of the other fields,” she said — the university has added gravel to a “number of lots,” where cars enter and exit. In the north area, Penn State has also laid down a hard plastic, mesh product that should allow the lots to be usable even if there’s more rain.
“I think we’ve done great work, committed some resources to it to help us not have to shut so many lots down when we get rain,” she said. “So I think our fans will see improvement and hopefully appreciate that improvement.”
Penn State opens the season by hosting three straight home games — against Idaho 3:30 p.m. Aug. 31, versus Buffalo 7:30 p.m. Sept. 7 and against Pitt noon Sept. 14.