If this doesn’t look familiar to you, it probably should: That building over there on the left is sitting squarely on the spot we’ve used for tailgating for the last 87 years.
It also rules out the possibility of squeezing one more season out of our old spot. We sort of knew that already, but the presence of a building there makes it seem pretty official.
So we’re sort of left where we were at this point a year ago — that is, with a bunch of questions about where we might end up for the tailgating portion of the 2011 season. As you may recall, we started the year in the South Lincoln lot — a destination that we had been told would not be available in 2010 — and ended up back where we had been since time began — also a lot that we had been told would be off-limits because of construction.
The other thing we found about football parking a year ago — It might just be best to show up somewhere we like, because it doesn’t seem like many people know what we can or can’t do with a 12th and Cannon parking pass. In that spirit, Bud and I set out for campus during our visit last week to check things out. And if stuff works out as it did a year ago — as in, we show up and act like we belong there — we might not be in for a huge change at all.
This should look a little familiar, right? That’s the Parks Hall loading dock on the right, and the entrance to, ahem, our bathrooms right there in the middle. And look — a bunch of parking spaces! Many, if not most, of the spaces in this area are reserved for handicapped parking, which we are, of course, qualified to use. The spaces we’re looking at here aren’t ideal — there’s no real grass to back up to, and not a ton of room between the rows — but we could make it work. Or, even better, we could do this:
Now we’re over by the loading dock, looking back at Cannon and the newly constructed extension of John Herrick Drive. And: More parking! Sure, the construction trailer doesn’t provide the best view, but check out that last marked space and all that territory next to it. That, boys and girls, could be ours. In fact, the plan as it stands now is to just show up there on the morning of Sept. 3 and see what happens. We’re betting that even if we’re not permitted to stay there all season, they’re not going to make us move once we’re set up. And if no one minds, we’re there for the whole year.
And if someone does mind, we have other options.
If you joined us for last season’s first time — the Thursday night one against Marshall — you’ll recall that we ended up in the construction-shrunken South Lincoln lot. It’s still small, but it’s been reorganized a bit — fresh blacktop, fewer spaces, a little grass nearby, a little more room to spread out. Last year we secured a special tag that allowed us to use that lot in conjunction with the 12th and Cannon pass; we’re not sure if we can get that again this year, but we’re certainly going to look into it.
And then there’s this, the lot north of St. John Arena. This would be a huge change, yes, but one I think we could manage. This is the designated handicapped accessible lot for Football Saturdays. We don’t need a pass to get in this one; we just need to get there early (it’s first-come, first-served), we need Bud’s handicapped hang-tag (and Bud, since the tag is issued to him) and we need $15. There’s lots of room here, and the space alongside the French Field House (that’s the building on the right) even have some grass between the lot and the building. There’s a shuttle that, in theory, could get my folks to and from the stadium easily, and it would be a shorter walk for the rest of us.
A shorter walk, that is, from the tailgating spot. This would obviously require some adjustment from those who park at the hospital (ahem, Coochie Doctor and Matlock) or in the Cannon lots (ahem, everyone else). But there are plenty of day-of-game parking lots (the ones, marked in red on the university’s handy parking map, that you don’t need a pass to use) nearby, at Fawcett Center, across Lane, on the other side of the Olentangy between Lane and Woody Hayes, etc. Yep, that would be a hike for you guys, and that’s why I’m thinking this one is a decent option, but not the best one.
(There is, of course, one other possibility that we know we can do — the Cannon lots. But they’re big, they’re sloppy and crowded and they’re a long freaking way from the stadium — and I’d rather not).
When Dad and I left campus last week, we both felt oddly optimistic about being able to park fairly close to where we’ve always been. Sure, it won’t be quite the same — but there’s an awful lot about this season that will be, uh, different, and it won’t hurt a thing if tailgating is a little different as well.