Game-day parking: Students crying foul
Florida Gulf Coast University students residing in North Lake Village housing will be required to move their vehicles to the main campus prior to selected FGCU athletics events this fall.
In an Oct. 8 email sent to all students, students living in residence halls closest to Alico Arena will be required to move their vehicles three hours prior to men’s basketball home games. Cars not moved will be subject to a fine.
“We’ve seen an enormous increase in interest in men’s basketball,” said Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh. “Parking issues are very common for large athletic programs.”
According to the email, 12 of the 14 men’s basketball home games will implement the new policy. The policy is not enforced during winter break.
“Parking on campus is already diffi cult. I’m very lucky if I get a spot remotely close to my (apartment) on a regular day,” said Rhea Cassimire, a sophomore majoring in computer information systems. “FGCU has plenty of shuttles, why not have the spectators park on campus and shuttle them to Alico Arena?”
According to Dr. James Rollo vice president of Student Affairs, utilizing the shuttle system for spectators is not feasible.
“We are expecting over 3,000 people at every basketball game this season. With only one road in and out of the area, the shuttles wouldn’t be able to get any closer to the arena than someone on foot,” Rollo said.
“When I was at the University of Florida, the residence halls closest to the football stadium were vacated of cars every Friday. These spots were then sold to donors on Saturday,” Rollo said.
North Lake Village residents are upset about losing what they call valuable parking. “If FGCU Athletics wants to accommodate more fans, they should build a bigger parking lot,” Cassimire said. “We’ve got plenty of vacant land. We shouldn’t have to ask all of these residents to move their cars.”
According to the campus master plan, the auxiliary lot in North Lake Village adjacent to the Aquatics Center is slated to become a parking garage.
“We have no immediate plans to construct the parking garage,” Rollo said. “The garage would cost tens of millions of dollars and would only need to be used a handful of times each year. That’s not a feasible use of funds.”
There were plans to construct a boardwalk connecting Parking Garage 1 to the auxiliary lot in North Lake Village, according to Kavanagh. Those plans were scrapped in 2010 after cuts to funding by legislators. The funds were used to furnish Marieb Hall in 2011.
“That (boardwalk) would have helped,” Kavanagh said. “Unfortunately, many fans will have to walk the extra distance to the Cohen Center.”
Despite the inconveniences to many on campus, Rollo is confi dent in the new policy.
“The most mobile and flexible group on campus are the students,” Rollo said. “Many fans attending these games are elderly or handicapped. We must be accommodating.”
In March, FGCU men’s basketball became the lowestseeded team to advance past the second round of the NCAA Tournament, sending FGCU into the national spotlight during an historic run. The demand for men’s basketball season tickets quickly increased to 1,400, up from 550 a year prior, according to Kavanagh.
“Students should feel blessed to attend a university where parking for athletics events is a legitimate concern,” Rollo said. “At the end of the day, this is a good problem to be having.”