Wolfpack football practice facility could cause parking issues

calexander@newsobserver.comMarch 3, 2014 

— The cold, wet weather on Monday underscored N.C. State’s need for an indoor practice facility for its football and track teams.

The Wolfpack plans to build a $14 million, 90,000-square-foot facility near Carter-Finley Stadium. Barring construction delays, it should be open for spring football practice in 2015.

“Having a place to practice, regardless of weather, is a big deal,” N.C. State football coach Dave Doeren said Monday, a day before the start of spring practice. “If today was the first day of spring ball, we wouldn’t be able to go. We’d have to make alternative plans.”

But the building of the facility will result in some alternative parking plans, affecting Wolfpack fans, Carolina Hurricanes fans and others who attend events at PNC Arena.

The Wolfpack Club has advised members that about 800 parking spots in the Southeast Lot, across Westchase Boulevard from the Dail football practice complex, will be lost for the 2014 season because of construction. The club expects about 350 spots to be permanently lost once the project is completed.

Wolfpack Club members have been told that some members would be assigned to other lots as those in the Southeast Lot with a higher club priority ranking are moved.

“The impact will not just be on the donors who park in the Southeast,” the club said in an advisory to its members.

Evan Richardson, a 2001 NCSU graduate, said he has been a season-ticket holder since 2002, bought lifetime rights on two seats ($3,000), pays for seats annually ($800 for both) and a parking pass ($150). He said he has been parking in a PNC Arena lot but expects to be moved out of his spot.

“I feel like every year I’m struggling from getting pushed farther from the stadium,” Richardson said. “And now it’s going to happen again.

“I’m not sure what they can do. There’s only so many parking spaces for X-number of people.”

Jesse Mann of Pittsboro, a season-ticket holder for eight years, said he parks in the Trinity Lot but wonders where he might be parking next season.

“We might better paying $10 and parking in somebody’s yard on Youth Center Road,” he said.

But Mann also said an indoor facility was part of the price of doing business in major college football. Duke and North Carolina have such facilities, and coaches at N.C. State have been asking for one for the past 30 years.

“If we are going to keep up with the Florida States, it’s something we have to do,” Mann said. “It will just be a few years of parking madness.”

The Wolfpack Club has told members they have until March 15 to improve their priority parking ranking.

Efforts to reach Wolfpack Club officials for comment were unsuccessful Monday.

Jared Wright, director of parking and traffic for PNC Arena, said the parking issues aren’t as problematic for Canes fans and for other events. For Canes games, there’s a $15 parking fee and the Southeast lot has open parking.

“Unless we’re in a long playoff run or we’re hosting an NCAA regional, we don’t often use all 8,000 parking spots,” he said.

Wright said one concern was that Westchase Boulevard remain open during the construction phase to handle Hurricanes and arena traffic, and that assurances had been made by N.C. State that it would be open.

Staff writer Joe Giglio contributed to this story

Alexander: 919-829-8945; Twitter: @ice_chip

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