Diddle lot, structure to close for Sun Belt games

Jessica Sasseen

For six days in March, parking spots will be a hot commodity on campus.

Because of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, the Diddle lot and the parking structure will be closed to students, faculty and staff and reserved for fans attending games, said University Relations Director Bob Skipper.

The tournament begins on March 6 and runs through March 11.

Diddle lot will close on March 6. Cars left parked in those spots will be towed.

The parking structure will close on March 9. Students whose cars are parked in the parking structure on March 9 will not be forced to move them. But if they leave the parking structure during the closed period, they won’t be allowed to park there until the tournament is over.

Fans will have to pay $5 to park in the structure.

Both lots will be available for use again beginning March 12.

During the tournament, two shuttles will run from the SKyPAC lots to Diddle Arena from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

“What we’re trying to do is gather or collect space in the structure based on the number of students that leave on the weekend,” said Karl Laves, co-chair of the parking and transportation committee.

Barriers will be put up Saturday night or early Sunday morning, Laves said.

“It’s not our intention to make things hard for residential or commuter students,” he said. “We’re trying to come up with ways to open up some space close to Diddle for the visitors.”

Drivers displaced from the Diddle lot and the parking structure will have to park in the SKyPAC lots located on Center and Capital streets, in the Campbell Lane lot and at the Center for Research and Development.

There are 700 spaces available at the Capital and Center Street lots. There are over 300 spaces at the Campbell Lane lot, with several hundred more at the Center for Research and Development, to serve commuters, campus police Capt. Mike Wallace said.

“The commuter students will be the majority of the ones who will be displaced,” Wallace said. “For that Monday and Tuesday, they will really need to consider using the shuttle service and car pooling.”

Assistant Athletics Director Craig Biggs said Diddle lot will be completely reserved for game officials, visiting teams, conference officers, the media and luxury box holders. The few remaining spots will be divided between tournament employees and Hilltopper Athletic Foundation members.

HAF parking will only be designated in the Diddle lot — other lots used by HAF members during home basketball games will be used as regular campus parking.

“There will be a limited amount of HAF spots — very, very few,” Biggs said. “We didn’t offer a mass plan for HAF. They will be treated like general public.”

Wallace said there are about 350 spaces available in the Diddle lot, but workers are trying to maximize spaces. He said the parking structure holds about 1,000 cars.

“From our stand point, the university has really stepped up and helped us with this dilemma of parking,” Biggs said.

Biggs is expecting about 6,000 to 7,000 fans to attend Western’s games and is unsure about attendance at games for the other 20 Sun Belt teams.

“This is what happens to a community,” Laves said. “We all live together, and every now and then something is going to happen where we bring in a whole bunch of people.

“If you have a family reunion, you let the guests park in the drive and put the family cars on the street.”

Reach Jessica Sasseen at [email protected]