Bollards and chain fences are being taken down in a variety of areas on campus that should provide more than 2,000 additional free parking spots.
Included in that total is approximately 300 free spaces in the "Weagle Woods" area being opened by the school of agricultural, which is also expanding its premium parking areas to accommodate approximately 800 parking and RV spots in the Agricultural Heritage Park off of South Donahue Drive. Those locations in the park can be rented for the entire eight-game home schedule.
Around 1,000 free tailgating spots will be made available across the street from the facilities division building on Lem Morrison Drive in the campus community garden area. AU officials are also adding a shuttle service from the gardens area to Jordan-Hare Stadium. More free parking/tailgating spaces are being added across the street from the gardens at the facilities division offices and lawns.
Additional free parking is being added on the east side of Wire Road near the new Carolyn Draughon Village dorms as well as on the west side of the intramural fields, the east side of South Donahue Drive and on Samford Avenue along the west side of the old Hutsell track and field. Also on Samford Aveue there will be tailgating allowed in front of the Leach Science Center.
Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said that he and other athletic officials appreciate other campus officials working with them to enhance the gameday experience for football fans. "In a survey we did 48 percent of the respondents said that improved parking and tailgating areas is a high priority for them," Jacobs noted.
Jay Jacobs shows the Weagle Woods tailgating area on South Donahue Drive. In the photo on the left is the bat house. The land is being made avaialable for fans by the school of agricultural.
The athletic director said that the plan is to continue to open more areas for tailgating in the coming years. "We are going to try to keep working on it and keep taking up chains and posts and try to find a way to make it work," he said.
Jacobs said athletic officials have been telling others on campus it is a "win-win" situation to open up more areas for tailgating. During administration of President William Muse the university upset numerous Auburn fans by putting up bollards and chains and declaring large parts of campus off-limits for tailgating, even though Auburn fans had been using those spots for tailgates on football Saturdays for many years.
The rationale at that time from Samford Hall was the need to protect the beauty of the campus and not interfere with classes and research projects. However, a significant number of Auburn fans have remained unhappy with those decisions.
"We want to make sure we don't do anything to impact the academic and research missions in any negative way," Jacobs said. "We want to have fans on campus not only to support athletics, but to support the academic mission of the university as well.
"We have been working for several years to try to improve the gameday experience," Jacobs said. "The great thing about opening up more space for parking and tailgating is it is going to be great for our fans. Making sure our fans have a great experience is our top priority."
Most of the parking areas will open at 4 p.m. on Fridays prior to Saturday home games.