Better parking spaces for only $300,000

We’ve been hearing it since August: Welcome to the ACC! But, with the prestige of the conference comes the inconvenience surrounding men’s basketball that we at Miami normally only experience for football games-the typical wristbands and long lines are back. The only thing that seems to be missing is tailgating in the student parking lot. Yet, that isn’t what students and staff have been complaining about as an added headache. In fact, the headache is not that we miss having to travel across town (remember the Miami Arena?) as in the past, but instead that we can’t park at the Convocation Center on game days, because Parking and Transportation closes off the four lots surrounding the Convocation Center on men’s basketball game days, of which there are 15 this season.

The Serpentine Lot, which has 344 spaces, closes at noon on game day. Besides those days with special-event parking restrictions, the lot is open to those holding commuter, resident or employee parking passes. This means that residents of Hecht, Stanford and the Apartment area who use the lot as overflow parking are forced to park over at the Ponce Garage. It also leaves people who are going to the Wellness Center to work out or to go to class left with having to also park at the Ponce Garage. This, in many cases, has made students (and some instructors) late for their classes.

Additionally, the three lots immediately surrounding the Convocation Center- the VIP Lot, the North Lot and the Hurricane 100 Lot-all close at 6 a.m. on game day. These three lots combined have over 260 spaces, and they’re the ones nearest to the Apartment area. Granted, residents living in the apartments can’t ever park in the VIP Lot, since it is normally open to commuter and employee parking pass holders. Additionally, the North Lot and Hurricane 100 lots are only available to those who hold visitor parking passes. In short, those that are going to the Wellness Center and are mad because they have to walk from the Ponce Garage are also in the wrong. Just because they’re stopping you from parking in places that you aren’t supposed to be parking in the first place doesn’t give you grounds to complain.

The understandable complaint, however, is that the University failed to sufficiently notify students and staff of the parking restrictions during games. This caused additional parking and traffic headaches, and not only for students and staff, but also for people going to the game.

Yet, we do understand the need to close the parking so that only VIP parking passes are allowed. These passes are distributed to season-ticket holders (some of which are “guaranteed” reserved parking at the Convocation Center), suite owners, Hurricane Club members and any others that may show up, like Alex Rodriguez and Alonzo Mourning, who showed up at the Duke game. These VIPs are the ones who donated the money to build the Convocation Center. For example, consider this: There are 25 Executive Suites in the Convocation Center. Each suite “costs” $300,000 over 10 years; in that price are three parking passes per men’s basketball home game. In total about 400 passes are distributed to donors at various levels.

While it’s fair to criticize Parking and Transportation for not notifying the UM community about the parking closures, it doesn’t make sense to complain about not being able to park wherever you want. The people who are getting these spots are the ones who have donated to help build the Convocation Center (and the whole University for that matter) into what it is today. So next time you’re walking from the Ponce Garage to the Wellness Center, thank those people-not for taking your parking space, but for paying to make the parking space a possibility.