“Hey brother Noah, Ah tell ya what to do. Build me a floatin’ zoo.” Friday before a home football game. Not just any football game, but a nationally televised game against Alabama. Normally a hectic day for the parking and transportation group on campus. However, as the opening line alludes, we have received record breaking rainfall over the last week or more from the remnants of Hurricane Lee. Many highways in the Commonwealth are or were closed over the last 36 hours and there is a lot of flooding in the eastern part of the state. We went through similar gyrations with the 2009 Homecoming game against Minnesota where we lost over 20,000 parking spaces 30 hours before kickoff. I had hoped to retire and not have to deal with that sort of logistical nightmare again.
Fast forward two years. I DID retire, but am dealing with the situation again. This time we “only” lost about 2500 including a large portion of ADA parking and all the RV grass parking. Fortunately we had about 3 days to plan and implement. The problem is that no matter how much time you have to plan or how little, you use every last drop you have. “And get me some of them green alligators and long necked geese . . .”
I must say, though, that it is an inspiring situation to be in when you know that the stadium seats 107,000 plus and the record (which could be toppled) is over 110,000. Much of the planning work was already in place after the 2009 game, but new wrinkles had to be identified and addressed.
This is a herculean amount of work. No one on ESPN game day sees the work that goes into this planning effort. Transportation, parking, facilities, police, emergency services and others on campus plus their municipal counterparts around the county all get roped into planning. We are invisible unless we blow the plan or the execution thereof. Then we will become very well known. In this case, no news really is outstanding news. “ . . . some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees . . .”
It rained so hard last night at times that just the sound of it hitting my roof woke me up. The trickle of RV’s that started on Tuesday started pouring into town yesterday. We will probably run out of regular overnight RV parking this afternoon (You see, Alabama and Penn State fans TRAVEL). We will then begin redirecting them to the areas identified for such emergency use. We expect over 2000 RV’s for the game. The shuttle routes, shuttles and drivers have all been identified and are being marked in the field as I write. “ . . .some cats and rats and elephants but sure as your born . . .”
At this point there is nothing left to do but hope that the rain is gone, although the clouds don’t look like it and I am too afraid to link to Accuweather. Now, if we can only find that blasted Unicorn. ——–
-Doug Holmes, CAPP