The Collegian
Monday, May 16, 2022

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Robins Stadium to affect parking, campus events

The new on-campus stadium will require three changes next year to maximize parking during home football games: moving student cars, limiting campus events and using the intramural fields for overflow parking.

Students who park in X-lot — the lot by the Robins Center — must move their cars to the varsity football practice field, near River Road, for the entire weekends of home games, said John McCulla, director of community relations.

No events may occur in the Robins Center on game days. University Services will schedule other events on a case-by-case basis. This includes Modlin Center for the Arts events and weddings, which have taken place at the campus chapel during every home game day this season, said Carla Shriner, associate director for university events. The IM fields will be an overflow parking lot, but only as a last resort and if weather conditions allow.

A petition started Tuesday night to protest parking on the IM fields already has 497 student signatures. Athletes on club sports teams that use the fields — soccer, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee and rugby — started the petition, but it is for all students, said senior Courtney McLaren, who plays women's club soccer. The IM fields also host practices for varsity sports teams, games for intramural sports teams and informal recreation for any students.

"We are looking for every kind of student's support," McLaren said.

Senior club lacrosse player Zach Gottlieb said the damaged fields would also pester University Forest Apartment residents, who already had to cross ankle-deep mud to get to the center of campus. After allowing cars on the field, students will be knee-deep in mud, he said, showing a picture of the muddy tracks one car created during the homecoming bonfire held Nov. 6.

"The fields won't be usable," Gottlieb said.

Tom Roberts, director of recreation and wellness, said club sports competitions already had to be canceled every other week because of field conditions. The fields were closed last week because of rain.

The IM fields will most likely be the last place where cars park on game day, and facilities workers will decide if the weather permits it, Bob Dillard, chief of campus police, wrote in an e-mail. He said he wasn't sure how frequently the fields would be used.

McCulla said use of the fields shouldn't be necessary, but it may happen more frequently during the stadium's first year on campus and for games against rivals and high-ranking teams. According to the proposal submitted to the city of Richmond in 2008 to approve the stadium, the extra traffic on game days will require 2,846 parking spots and 3,147 painted spots are available on an average weekend.

Steve Bisese, vice president for student development, said the city proposal required the school to list all fields that could be used for parking if necessary, but that didn't mean they would be used. The other overflow lot is the President's field, which is located next to the President's house.

Roberts said a stadium-planning committee had asked him whether he had any objections to using the IM fields as an overflow lot. He agreed to the plan on the conditions that parking would not adversely affect student use of the fields or be allowed during inclement weather, because that would muddy the fields.

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"I support the stadium and I know there are certain things that every department is going to have to do," Roberts said he had told the committee. "I would be very disappointed if someone made a poor decision that damaged the fields."

The petitioners said they felt overlooked and that the information was being kept from them. Senior Sarah White, an ultimate Frisbee player, divulged the parking plan to her fellow field club sport athletes during a Sports Club Council meeting on Oct. 6. White said her boss had leaked the information to her last spring, but declined to say where or whom she worked for.

"A lot of people were trying to let it leak," White said. "I decided during the summer that this was something that needed to be addressed because students just didn't know."

Bisese, the voluntary chairman of the game-day planning committee, said he had been talking about stadium plans at student government meetings since last semester. Forums will be held next semester to solicit student input.

Roberts said he applauded the ownership the students felt of the IM fields but challenged them to see the change of culture that the on-campus stadium would bring.

McLaren and Gottlieb said they were excited about the stadium being on campus but wanted school officials to consider the impact of its decisions on all students.

"Football may be the face of the community, but the IM fields are the heart," Gottlieb said.

Contact staff writer Maura Bogue at maura.bogue@richmond.edu

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