EUGENE— If the past couple of weeks has given a preview of what the future of Matt Knight Arena’s traffic and parking situation will be, the outlook is grim. I drove down to campus during game time to talk to a few people about the parking situation, but after driving around for 20 minutes unsuccessfully looking for a place to park, I was forced to give up the quest. All the more discouraging because I am a regular event attendee and a fan of UofO Mens and Womens basketball.
Before Matt Court, the U of O’s Department of Public Safety had been saving money for years to build a parking structure for students. The plans were near almost solidified the plans when their budget was diverted to the arena garage. This not only took much needed parking away from students, but also took the budget away from DPS. Now the parking that is available is in a new underground that cost DPS three times as much to build as the originally planned structure. This garage is not available to students and only parks 242 of the 12,000 people in the arena above. When the proposed Arena public hearings took place, the U of O was reluctant to make concessions, even after numerous questions about parking were raised. The original proposal did not include a parking garage, at the time they felt that park-n-rides and the Fairmont neighborhood street parking would suffice. In the aftermath of the construction, however, public pressure has brought the discussion back to the forefront. Proposals for a University parking garage are on the table, but it has been pushed back on the shoulders of DPS, who of at this point has no money for new development.
Adding fuel to the controversy is the increase in the strict enforcement of violators, and extended parking permit zones and 2-hour curb limit areas. If you live in the Fairmont neighborhood, you already know that if there is an event at the arena, the surrounding area is impassable; perhaps you’ve even gotten a parking ticket during event hours that’s double the normal fine. As an attendee to a game or concert in the last couple weeks, you may have found yourself parking 10 blocks away in order to avoid the new camera systems that meter-maids are sporting to snap pics of your license plate.
The City has allotted two free residential parking permits per property, and you can get more if they are available. Guest Permits can be issued to individuals or in packets, but are not valid during the 22 arena events when the University is selling on-street parking permits. The University is runs Arena shuttles for all men’s basketball games, as well as other large arena events with three Park-and-Ride locations: Autzen Stadium, South Eugene High School, and the Springfield LTD Station. While not ideal if you live near the University, the $3.00 bus pass is a much better deal than waging parking wars down by campus.
Since there is no new proposal in the pipeline for re-vamping what was just built, we seem to have but a few choices- we can boycott the new arena, or we can live with it. I know the next time I go to a game, I’m going to carpool. That way I can have someone to split the parking ticket with.