The best cure for the common parking problem among campus is to take your daily dose of “get over it.”
The Wildcat Stadium, expected to be completed by September, is starting to raise concerns if there will be enough parking spots for everyone on game days, but even before construction started students have been constantly frustrated with finding a parking spot.
Emily Moreno, senior business management major from Uvalde, Texas, said parking for her is stressful because she usually has to get to class 30 minutes early.
Morgan Jones, senior DET major from Austin, said it takes her between three to seven minutes to drive around and find a parking spot near campus.
“It stinks to waste a cumulative 30 minutes a day just finding parking and getting to class,” said Jones. However, she said there are limitations to building new parking lots and appreciates that less parking encourages students to walk to campus.
To solve the parking problem, Moreno and Jones said a new lot or a parking garage would be the best solution.
However, there’s many students, including the public that don’t know how much time and thought is actually put into the parking issue.
Jimmy Ellison, chief of police for ACU Police Department and also the director of public safety, said he hopes people don’t think the police department are inadequately planning for the parking.
“In non-game days the football stadium isn’t really going to have effect on parking or traffic,” said Ellison. “In game days, however, that’s a different story, we think that on game day parking and traffic will be a significant event in terms of planning and coordination.”
There is a lot of traffic control to conduct on the perimeter in addition to parking lots, Ellison said. There might be a lot of perimeter traffic issues around Ambler, Judge Ely, Campus Court and 16th street.
“We have some plans in place of how we think parking and traffic flow will go but I always preface with everyone that we haven’t had a football stadium in the modern era,” said Ellison. “We can adapt some plans to what we think is going to happen.”
Coliseum way, the stadium parking lot and the Teague parking lot have always been difficult and congested, said Ellison. But over the summer as part of the final stages of the football stadium project, Ellison said those parking areas will be redesigned and redone.
“While that is not going to give you any more net parking spaces, it’s going to improve parking flow tremendously on that side of campus,” said Ellison.
Ellison said he’s heard criticism from people saying there should have been a big parking lot but because ACU is landlocked, he said “that’s just not the reality of campus geography and land availability.”
“One of the unfortunate truths is if you go to any college campus that has an on-campus football stadium, rarely do you see one giant parking lot for everyone that goes to that stadium,” said Ellison.
Ellison said on most college campuses, people have to park all around campus such as parking lots, side streets, church parking lots, and front yards.
Parking garages are expensive, not attractive and could bring security issues, said Ellison. However, if enrollment at ACU continues to grow, Ellison said eventually there would be a parking problem and a parking garage would be the best permanent solution.
Overall, there are 3,700 parking spaces available on campus, but that’s not counting side street parking and the property on Ambler across from Hillcrest church, said Ellison.
Samantha Adkins, assistant director of Alumni Relations, helps with tailgates or any athletic event that might have an activity before or after.
A stadium task force with people from Student Life, Alumni Office, University Events and the marketing department were put together last spring to brainstorm ideas and decide what game days will look like on campus, said Adkins.
The stadium task force has visited Baylor, SMU, TCU and Liberty University in Virginia to see what their school game days look like.
As for the parking problem, Adkins said she doesn’t think it’s an issue compared to other schools they visited. Adkins said she encourages people to come early and be prepared to park further away.
Adkins said they can’t share any details of the exact location of the future tailgates because of final budget money and final decisions still being made. “We would love for it to be as close to the stadium as possible but with parking being an issue on game days, we’re taking that into effect as well.”
As for the tailgating experience, Ellison said he expects the police department – in addition to managing the actual stadium venue and securing the traffic control – to make sure tailgating is safe by getting officers on foot and bicycle control.
Ellison said parking may be challenging for a few hours but the excitement of an on-campus stadium will hopefully help everyone make the best of it, just like with Sing Song and other major ACU traditions.
“At the end of the day it’s a beautiful stadium,” said Ellison. “It’s going to be a great addition to campus, it’s going to bring a new element and a new dynamic to our campus.”.