Baylor, Waco Chamber Say Game Day Downtown Parking Worries Unfou - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Baylor, Waco Chamber Say Game Day Downtown Parking Worries Unfounded

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(KCEN) -- Central Texas is counting down the days to the Bears' first kickoff in McLane Stadium.

It's a project years in the making, but no one is really sure what kind of impact the city of Waco will see.

A new stadium brings a new way to experience Baylor game days.

"I think it's amazing," said Jessica Schneider. She lives in Austin, and plans to come to more than a game or two.

"Before most of the games, we'll come through here and shop around and downstairs a little bit and kind of get our game day essentials," she said Monday, as she browsed through Spice Village in downtown Waco.


That's what shop owners like Jennifer Wilson are counting on. A big Baylor display greets her shoppers as they come up the stairs into Spice Village.

"Normally on Sundays, we're open from 12 to 5, but this Sunday, we're going to be open from 11 to 6," she said.

McLane Stadium should bring a lot more traffic downtown.

There won't be any parking spaces at stadium for regular ticket holders. The spots that surround the facility, about 2,500 of them, are for donors.

That means for thousand of fans, they'll have to park on Baylor's campus if they can find a spot, or on the street downtown. With around 14,000 parking spots downtown, developers are hoping it won't be an issue.

"It would be single-game ticket purchasers who would probably be the ones funneling to the downtown area," said Nick Joos, executive associate athletic director for external affairs.

Every game except one, the Kansas State game, is already sold out. There are only about 200 tickets left for that game.

That's a lot of fans downtown.

"That's just the way they build stadiums these days," said Chris McGowan, in charge of urban development for the Waco Chamber of Commerce. "With not enough parking, it benefits the neighborhood, and that's kind of by design in this instance."

More traffic hopefully means more spending, and not just at restaurants and shops.

"We're seeing, you know, private businesses starting up parking lots in and around the football stadium," McGowan said.

But with such a big change to how fans get to games, there's going to be a pretty steep learning curve.

"Probably, you know, the first couple games that we come to we'll try it out and see," Schneider said.


Fans, businesses, and even developers are ready to adjust to keep the revenue flowing.

"We know it's going to bring a lot of people into the area," Wilson said. But that's not all good for the shop owner.

"We also still have our regular customers that are going to want to come shop with us," she said. "And we want our parking lot to be available for our customers."

That's why the property manager of the River Square shops plans to hire game day security guards  -- to keep fans from parking there and then walking to the stadium.

But the rest of downtown will have to adjust.

"I don't think there's going to be a struggle for parking," McGowan said. "It's the first game; nobody really knows exactly how it's going to go down."


"We see it as a win-win for both Baylor, obviously, for the city of Waco and downtown," Joos said.

Other than the 2,500 spaces at the $250 million stadium reserved for donors, parking lots and garages, like the Ferrell Center, around Baylor have sold out to the 28,000 season ticket holders.

So for thousands (Joos estimates around 4,000) with single-game tickets, they'll have to park where they can.

Lisa Dickison wrote on KCEN's Facebook page, "More than a quarter of a billion dollars spent on a new stadium and you can't even park at it."

But viewer Ryan Beimer points out, "UT has a larger stadium in the downtown with absolutely no parking. I think if they can figure it out in Austin, Waco can figure it out."

Waco Transit is trying to help, offering a free shuttle from 5th Street and Austin Avenue near the Alico building to the stadium.

But still, "it's going to be kind of tricky," Wilson said.

And as a side-note, tickets went on sale to students for the first game yesterday. The school sold 8,700 in 54 minutes.

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