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Pay-per-tailgate now for bama fans.. I guess money is tight for bama.


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UA to require more reservations

By Adam Jones Staff Writer

Published: Monday, July 21, 2008 at 3:30 a.m.

Last Modified: Sunday, July 20, 2008 at 11:26 p.m.

TUSCALOOSA | This fall, more University of Alabama football fans are likely to have to open up their wallets before they even leave home.

More areas of campus will require payment before fans can park or tailgate there.

Aside from those changes, little else will change for football game days in 2008, said Gene Hallman, head of the Bruno Event Team out of Birmingham hired to manage UA events.

'The headline is that in the three years that Bruno Event Team has been involved, this year will consist of the fewest number of changes,' he said. 'Much of the work done the first two years has been fine-tuned and tweaked for this year, and we feel like we have a very solid plan to make game day as enjoyable as possible.'

But much of the buzz from fans is focused on the pay-per-tailgate plan on the Quad. This fall, about 20 percent of the space allotted for tailgating on the Quad will be reserved, something Hallman said is similar to the concept UA adopted for RVs in 2007.

Last year, Hallman's firm and the university required a $500 reservation for all RV spaces, on a first-come, first-served basis, a move that he said ensured fans always got the spot they wanted next to who they wanted without having to jockey for space. To have that benefit, payment was needed to ensure that fans showed up, he said. In 2006, Hallman's company attempted a method that would reserve RV spots for free, but about a third of RVs were no-shows for each game.

That put his staff in the awkward position of having to defend free parking spots from other RVs that needed parking, he said. Charging fees makes it more likely the RV drivers will show up to claim the space, he said.

As for the Quad, Hallman said his company is working incrementally, waiting to gauge the fan response. So far, it's been positive, he said. On Thursday, 92 out of 115 spots were sold, and he expected the balance to sell out this week.

'This is just an experiment to see how it goes, and if we get a favorable response, like we have, then we'll evaluate what the future may be for the Quad,' he said.

In 2007, 22 reserved spaces lined the grass between Denny Chimes and Gorgas Library. This season, 115 spots will be staked out by Hallman's company. Of those, 67 will be in the southeast corner, 26 in the open grass area on the western side and there will be 22 in the same area as they were in 2007.

'These reserved spots are in spots that have traditional filled up last on the Quad, so we are not trying to disrupt people who have had spots for years on the Quad,' Hallman said.

The cost for each space is $729 and comes with a tent, electricity and a parking spot near the engineering buildings.

Other than those spaces for the Quad tailgaters, other fans will also lose free parking spots in the parking lot between Moody Music Building and the Million Dollar Band's drill field. That lot will now be reserved for Tide Pride donors and members of the marching band. Parking along with grass around the lot will be eliminated under the new parking plan.

Parking will also be cut from the grass areas around Russell, Farrah and Gallalee halls because of recent landscaping work, although, like the Quad, tailgating is allowed without vehicles.

A glance over the game-day map published by the Bruno Event Team shows that reservations are needed for most parking spaces, with the largest exception being the lot beside the biology building. All reserved spaces not taken by residential students, Tide Pride members or people with disabilities will cost $10.

Hallman understands that for some fans, their traditional game day plans will be disrupted, but with more students, more construction and more fans coming to football games about 125,000 attended one game in 2007 a plan is needed to manage the crowd, and initiatives to meet demand for such things as more restroom trailers around campus, parking attendants, event staff and electricity for tailgaters take money.

'With the increase in the number of students living on campus in the last few years and the university's efforts to move toward a more pedestrian-friendly campus, in keeping with the campus master plan, parking on campus requires a different approach than in the past,' said Cathy Andreen, UA spokeswoman. 'That's true both on game days and everyday.'

Charging for parking also offsets the cost of running the Crimson Ride buses to ferry fans around campus, she said.

'These initiatives are not profit initiatives because there are no profits to be had,' Hallman said.

In 2007, the lots on the eastern side of campus pulled in about $178,000 and the non-Tide Pride RV lots brought in close to $124,000, according to UA data.

Hallman's company is essential to planning game days, Andreen said. For their services, which includes other sports and events throughout the year, the company is paid $25,000 monthly. She maintains that that has been a good relationship, she said.

'Bruno Event Planning provides leadership in the overall logistical planning for game day, including a comprehensive approach to traffic and parking,' Andreen said. 'As a result, game days are a safer, better organized, more enjoyable experience.'

Andreen said it takes fans half the time to leave campus after a game than before UA hired Hallman's firm before the 2006 season.

Hallman said getting all local and state law enforcement agencies to coordinate their efforts with his firm's overall traffic flow pattern has been the biggest success of all the changes.


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