With bigger crowds, KSU plans for better parking

Erica Weisburn

Parking Services says it is prepared for full attendance

Part of Summit Street was closed to help with traffic flow and off-site parking was set up to handle the higher volume. Multiple photos were merged together show what the parking situation was like at Dix stadium for the football game against Minnesota Un

Credit: John Proppe

Crowds of more than 15,000 used to cause difficulties for Parking Services, but now the department is ready to handle a sold-out game.

Thomas Clapper, senior assistant to the vice president of administration, was impressed with the more than 20,000 people who were seated in Dix Stadium right before the kickoff of the football season opener against University of Minnesota three weeks ago.

The game showcased the debut of a new transportation and parking plan created to deal with game-day traffic. By controlling game-day traffic routes and creating mostly bus-only areas, Parking Services took a more organized approach to getting fans to the game on time.

Institutions such as Ohio State University, Ohio University and Michigan State were influences on the newly developed Kent State game-day parking plan.

“There is no reason we can’t do the same thing,” Clapper said.

“We tried to approach it the way other colleges approach their parking situations by controlling the situation without letting the situation control you,” Clapper said.

He added that parking and transportation problems would occasionally prevent people from being seated until halftime or even the third quarter, he said.

Having stadium-permit students move their cars to make room for game-day parking never worked either, Clapper said. It was inconvenient for the students, and parking services had no place to relocate them.

“We want fans to enjoy the experience,” Clapper said. “Part of that is to make game- day parking less frustrating.”

Lyndsay Kimbro, senior special education major, said she is pleased with the new plan.

Although she waited 10 minutes behind nearly 300 of her pushing peers to get onto a bus, she said the experience was virtually painless.

“I was there before kick off and that’s all I care about,” Kimbro said.

The new transportation method was a collective idea by parking services, PARTA, the city of Kent, the Kent Police Department, the athletic department and campus police.

Both Joseph Yensel, operations manager for PARTA, and Clapper feel the new plan was very successful. But changes will be made to support the expected larger turnout for the game against Akron on Sept. 30.

“Things that didn’t work for us were trying to get everybody on the bus safely after the game,” Yensel said. “People walking in front of the buses caused some safety issues.”

Buses will now enter the Dix Stadium parking lot entrance closest to the stadium in order to accommodate students quicker than the last game, Clapper said. This will create less bus interference.

PARTA used 18 buses to transport fans to the Minnesota game and plans to include a few more buses to transport the crowd to the game against Akron.

“We are going to look at Kent State football as a huge community event,” Clapper said.

Contact transportation reporter Erica Weisburn at [email protected].