The University of Mississippi community will see many changes to the game day parking system beginning on Saturday.
The Department of Parking and Transportation has recreated the parking system for game day due in part to cooperation with the Office of Civil Rights. According to Isaac Astill, director of parking and transportation, the university has committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Many, like Astill, had noticed that many fans in the past were parking illegally due to the popularity of the Ole Miss tailgating atmosphere, and consequently people with certain disabilities found it difficult or impossible to participate in Saturday’s festivities.
“Over the years with the growing popularity (of the Grove) people are basically parking on sidewalks, I saw them on stairs, on grass areas. And basically what it comes down to is we have to ensure the safety and accessibility for those coming to campus,” Astill said.
A parking committee has pledged to ensure that there are the appropriate number of ADA spots on campus, enforce these spots accordingly and make sure these spots provide access to campus, according to Astill.
Additionally, only three other sets of people will be allowed to park on campus on game day: those who live on campus and have the appropriate parking permit, those who have purchased a designated spot and those with mission-critical activities.
The spots for sale were purchased through the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, and they have all been sold, according to Astill.
One lot has been set aside for a select number of faculty who must be on campus every day for endeavors that require daily attention, such as science experiments. Astill said that the parking committee considered requests for one of these spots with keen judgement.
In order to combat the reduced amount of parking on campus for fans, the university will be running a shuttle from the Oxford Mall on Jackson Avenue and a shuttle from the Whirlpool parking lot on Coliseum Drive. The shuttles and the parking are free of charge.
These shuttles will be running every five to seven minutes from 5:30 a.m. until two hours after the conclusion of the game. At halftime an additional bus will join each location for a smoother transportation experience.
Additionally, the city of Oxford will run a shuttle service comprised of six to eight buses from Central Middle School, the Oxford Conference Center and the Oxford Activities Center starting three hours before kickoff. Parking is free, but the bus fare is $5 per person.
Any car that is not permitted to park on campus on game day must have exited by 4 a.m. on Saturday morning in some areas. Other areas have signs that say cars must exit by 6 p.m. on Friday.
Fans who wish to drop off people or supplies at the Grove are permitted to do so on University Avenue and must turn around in the circle and exit on University Avenue.
“No later than two hours before game time, there won’t be any access to the Grove any longer unless you have a permit,” Astill said.
This year the Oxford Police Department has also established a newfound commitment to enforcing parking regulations downtown.
“Anywhere in a neighborhood where the curb is painted yellow, those are the areas that we are going to primarily focus on,” OPD Major James Owens said.
Owens stated OPD has committed to enforcing the parking laws to make the job of emergency vehicles more efficient and so residential neighbors can drive more easily on game day as well.
Local residents have begun to take advantage of the parking shortage on game day. Ed Meek, entrepreneur and publisher of hottytoddy.com, is selling parking spots at his office for $1,000 for the seven-game home schedule and $200 per game if space is available. Meek said he still has space available.
“I can park 187 cars here, and if it works, I’m going to tear down these buildings, and I’m going to park 300 cars here,” he said. “It’s so convenient. I can take a slingshot and knock a window out of the honors college.”
The proceeds from Meek’s parking revenue will go to support Academic Enrichment at Ole Miss and the Burns United Methodist Church.
For a detailed game day parking map, visit www.olemissfb.com and click on the Traffic/Shuttles tab.