We offer reserved tailgating spaces for the whole season, but I’ve had lots of questions from fans from out of town taking their son to his first game, or people who just come up for a few games each year to see the Gators play. Unfortunately, it can be very frustrating to find good parking anywhere near the stadium and I thought I’d offer some suggestions for the once-in-a-while, out of town fans:
1. Find a legitimate space. Unfortunately, there are scammers and even well intentioned but misinformed (or drunk) people out there that will cause you a great deal of headache. If you are looking for free parking on UF property, recognize that more and more free parking disappears each year as UF has been tightening down where they will allow people to park. Don’t try to move areas that are roped off, they know where they put the ropes are and will tow you immediately. Be very careful that you choose a space that cannot possibly be blocked in, as it’s very common to see latecomers who are desperate for parking block an entrance so that everyone else is stuck until they come back to their car. And be prepared to get there very, very early to have any chance of finding a spot within a mile of the stadium.
If you are looking for parking off-campus, know that the City of Gainesville has begun licensing the selling of parking on UF football home gamedays. We at Gator Parking are licensed on all our lots, and ANYONE selling parking must carry a license. If you are suspicious of someone holding a sign that was hand-written on the back of a pizza box, ask to see their license. If they don’t have one, they aren’t allowed to sell you parking and either a) they may be doing it without the property owners permission and you might get towed or b) they don’t even live at the property, they are just seeing if they can sell someone else’s parking and you will almost certainly get towed.
2. Come early. Earlier than you think. The reason many people are surprised and frustrated about parking for football games is that unlike other SEC schools, UF has far more limited parking around the stadium. In our case, the stadium is right near the core of the university as opposed to being further away where parking does not conflict with other uses. UF has not been able to build nearby parking garages other than the O’Connell Center Garage which is reserved for big donors. That means parking is confined to residential yards to the north and east of campus and on-campus parking. It’s not uncommon for parking to be scarce or gone for miles around HOURS before a big game. And all the exits off I-75 to Gainesville can be backed up for half an hour. Things are changing in 2010 because of the new tv broadcast deals, but as a rule of thumb, if you plan to attend a big afternoon game (say 3:30 kick off) arrive no later than Noon, or 11am if you want to find a decent spot. Noon kick-offs tend to be easy teams and you can usually just show up a few hours early and be fine. Night games (around 7pm kick-off) can be easy or hard depending on the opponent. If it’s Vandy, you can show up in the afternoon and be fine. If it’s Miami, get here as early as you possibly can and pray you find somewhere, anywhere to park!
3. Be prepared to pay to be close to the stadium.Parking near the stadium is not only much more convenient than walking several miles from your car, it’s more FUN. That’s because true gator fans tailgate nearby where all the action is. In our reserved lots, you can hear the roar of the stadium before the game as fans get warmed up. Many tailgators don’t even go in to watch, they stay under the comfort of their tailgate tent with friends, eat their food, and watch the game on TV while hearing cheers from inside the stadium.
Because of the high demand to be up close, prices rise sharply as you get within a stone’s throw of the stadium. For a big game, to be a block away can easily set you back more than $100 per game for parking. However, once you get several blocks into the neighborhoods near the stadium prices generally go from $30-60 per game depending on how big the game is and how many fans from the opposing team show up (the more fans from the away team, the fewer parking spaces are available for Gators fans).
All these factors can contribute to a large degree of unpredictability around uf gameday parking. Season ticket holders and folks who want to leave all this stress behind can get a reserved season pass at www.GatorParking.com, but if you’re just coming to one or two games then just come early, look for legitimate signs from legitimate looking people, and know that the closer you get to your seats, the more you’ll pay.
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