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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


UH unprepared for game day parking, needs more garages


Although it appears empty and harmless now, the parking lots on campus become congested on game days. | Esteban Portillo

Parking at UH has always been a nightmare, and it always will be. This year, parking has become a battle zone on football game days.

The University has tried to put together an attack plan to help students maneuver the battlefield. Between the masses of other cars and prevalence of cash lots as alternatives to already paid-for parking, as well as congested traffic, the plan has yet to prove effective for the past two home game days.

Before one can even pull into the garage, the masses of other cars is enough to turn one away. If a student has a East Garage parking pass, he has certainly lucked out as the Stadium and Welcome Center garages are impacted on game days; although, one can surpass this by paying $10 at the gate — cash only, of course.

Don’t even think about finding parking an hour before the game. Every entrance to the University will be congested with traffic and it’s extremely difficult and frustrating to navigate around campus. Arriving well in advance and enjoying the tailgates is suggested.

Remember that Cullen Boulevard will be shut down for tailgating activities, so avoid that street at all costs. The University strongly suggests entering campus through Spur 5. While the University relentlessly promotes parking at the ERP on game days as an alternative, realistically, that’s the last resort.

Additional directional signage on game days would benefit the public. It would help visitors navigate their way around campus to the appropriate designated parking areas.

If the University put out a map outlining paths for students to take directly to student-designated parking lots, it would detract from the confusion. It was a safe assumption that the stadium parking garage would be severely impacted on game days, but even the Welcome Center Garages will be closed off from students, aside from residential students with a permit.

“I have a Welcome Center Garage permit, and they’re going to take away my parking spot after 12 p.m.,” said consumer science senior Brianna Mills.

According to the University’s Game Day parking page, several parking lots, including 12A, 12B, 9B, 9C and a portion of 15C will be closed off. This leaves only three lots designated for student parking. With 14 lots being turned into cash-only lots, I was disappointed to see that the Welcome Center Garage was also converted into cash-only parking.

When one is already paying over $400 for an annual garage pass, its disheartening to know that a guaranteed parking spot is often no more. That doesn’t sound worthy of a Tier One label.

The need to pay off the cost of the new TDECU Stadium is understood, but it seems like the cost is at the expense of the students. The University was ill-prepared to accommodate the influx of visitors and parking. A bigger stadium means it can fit more people; with more people, there needs to be more parking.

“I wanted to go to the game, and ended up not parking where I wanted to, even though I’m paying for this spot in the garage,” Mills said. “They shouldn’t implement a program where a predetermined number of students with permits should be able to park in designated sections of the garages.  I don’t think it’s fair that I’m already paying for a garage and have to pay more.”

According to the Houston Chronicle, there are 1,467 parking spaces in surface lots and 2,268 parking spaces in the Stadium Garage available to Cougar Pride members. Unfortunately, those spots had to be taken away from students to accommodate members.

One can only wonder why the University wouldn’t think 10,000 students would attend the opening game. While that does not equate to 10,000 parking spaces, there’s still a great portion of students who need a place to park.

Sometimes it seems like the University forgets about its commuter students, who of course want to see the football game and show off their Cougar Pride as well.

“Drivers, for the most part, have been conscientious when it’s not rush hour or busy,” said business sophomore Angela Hoang. “I think if they extended the cut-off time past 12 p.m. on game days, it would be nice for people to not have to wait around so long for tailgating or the game.”

As the campus continues to grow, so does the need for ample parking space. The University should look into building taller garages because four floors just won’t cut it anymore. More elevators should be built in, as well as escalators. I’m certain the UH community would be willing to pay a little more for parking permits if it means better parking options, guaranteed parking spaces and a little more time to get to class.

So as Cougars anxiously await the next home game on Sept. 20, I part with this advice for game days: arrive early, bring $10 and plenty of patience. The UH community continues to grow, and it’s only a matter of time until more parking garages pop up.

Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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