Hawkeye and Cyclones fans traveling to Ames for the rivalry football game this weekend should be prepared for a change in the already challenging chore of finding a place to park.
The city of Ames this year passed an ordinance doubling the fine for illegal parking from 6 a.m. to midnight on game day.
Illegal parking in neighborhoods around Jack Trice Stadium on game days has been an “ongoing frustration” for residents, blocking streets to emergency vehicles and even blocking driveways, said Sheri Nelson, parking enforcement coordinator for the city of Ames.
The ordinance doubles the fines from $20 to $40.
With most lots already charging $20 to park, people were paying the same cost to park illegally — and closer to the stadium — than they were to park legally elsewhere, said Ames police Commander Geoff Huff.
The affected neighborhoods include Beach Avenue west to Manning Avenue, and Welch Avenue, Hayward Avenue and Chamberlain Place, Huff said.
When the Iowa/Iowa State rivalry was held in Ames two years ago, Nelson said, the city wrote 700 citations for parking violations. The city writes an average of 400 to 500 on game days.
“The Iowa game is in its own separate bracket,” Nelson said.
The Aug. 31 University of Northern Iowa vs. Iowa State game was the city’s first opportunity to test out the new ordinance. Nelson said there was a slight decrease in overall tickets written, and the city will continue monitoring the effectiveness of the ordinance.
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Huff said that with ESPN College GameDay coming to Ames for the first time for this rivalry, it’s a “completely different animal” from other game days.
A couple years ago during the Iowa/Iowa State game, Huff estimated 80,000 people in and around the stadium. This year, projected estimates are closer to 150,000.
“We may not see what we’re hoping to see because of the sheer numbers,” Huff said. “Drink a lot of water, not so much of the other stuff, and you’ll probably have a much better time and enjoy the game.”
Nelson said that most parking lots on the central campus have spots available after Friday evening. Visitors also can park further away and walk or take CyRide for a small fee to get bused to the stadium.
“It’s certainly going to be crazy,” Nelson said. “I’m hopeful and optimistic (the ordinance) will help detour some people so we don’t have that congestion in these neighborhoods.”
People traveling to Ames on game day should arrive early and take time to read parking signs on city streets to avoid parking illegally, Nelson said.
Iowa State’s parking lots open at 5 a.m. this year, a spokeswoman from the Iowa State Athletic Department said.
Parking Lot S1, on the south side of the stadium, is available to fans with a medical accessible parking permit issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation on a first-come, first-served basis. Recreational vehicles and buses will not be admitted to Lot S1.
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There also will be limited medical accessible parking in Lot G2, south of the stadium and around Hilton Coliseum, north of the stadium.
Cyclone Club members may park in lots and on the grass north and east of the stadium.
General parking is located in the grass areas south of MidAmerican Energy Field along South 16th Street.
Nelson voiced some concern about the weather. While the game day forecast shows 80 degrees and blue skies, Ames has received heavy rains this week that could close or partially close grass parking lots.
Tim Gartin, an Ames City Council member, said the ordinance was passed with input from residents who have had a lot of challenges when it comes to people parking in their neighborhoods on game day.
“We love Iowa State athletics and the energy it brings. ... This ordinance is trying to minimize the negative challenges of parking to make sure police and the fire department has access to the roads,” Gartin said.
Gartin said he hopes the hundreds of signs put up in neighborhoods around the stadium alerting people to the ordinance have been “appropriate” and help people avoid getting a citation.
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