Last Sunday night’s football game between WVU and Virginia Tech was a compelling event. The Mountaineers and the Hokies produced a thrilling game worthy of their rivalry. Fans from both teams filled FedEx Field and rocked the place until the final whistle, taking home with them memories of a great game.
Unfortunately, for many fans those memories also include horror stories of the traffic and parking debacle leading up to the event. Fans were caught in gridlocked traffic for anywhere from one to three hours and once they got to the stadium, parking was maddeningly disorganized.
Fans paid as much as $45 for what they thought was a guaranteed parking space, but many couldn’t even get to their assigned lot and just parked wherever they could wedge into a space.
Here’s a sampling of just a few of the texts and emails I have received from some who were caught in the chaos.
–“I’ve never seen such a mess. It was nothing more than a ‘free-for-all’ and everyone responsible for organizing that traffic/parking situation is lucky that no one was seriously injured.”
–“Terrible, terrible, terrible.”
–“Took 2 hours to go five miles into the Orange lot. Then cars were going down the rows in both directions—shut down all movement.”
–“Parking was a disaster. Took well over an hour and a half from the beltway to the parking lot.”
One of the reasons for the traffic turmoil is that the parking lots did not open until 3:30 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. kick-off. Although a neutral site, this was technically a “home” game for Virginia Tech, so I contacted the Hokies for comment. Virginia Tech Associate Athletics Director Pete Moris said they tried to get the Redskins to alter the parking plans.
“Unfortunately, despite the urging of both Virginia Tech and West Virginia in the months leading up to the game, the stadium owners/operators declined the request from both schools to open parking lots to fans earlier,” Moris told me in an email.
WVU and Tech have a lot of experience with the rivalry and they knew the fans would show up early to tailgate (and avoid the traffic). The Redskins simply ignored the best available information that could have alleviated the traffic and parking nightmare.
I’ve reached out to the Redskins several times to get their side of the story, but haven’t heard back.
Moris said, “Going forward, should Virginia Tech participate in a neutral site game, we will continue to make every effort to address these concerns in the game contract [emphasis added] so fans from both teams aren’t caught in a similar situation.” Simply, we were disappointed and never want it to happen again.”
The West Virginia and Virginia Tech fans deserve credit for turning out in huge numbers and creating an electric atmosphere inside FedEx Field. Sadly, the Redskins fumbled the ball on traffic and parking.
The organization owes those fans an apology, and Tech and WVU should think twice before they do business with the Redskins again.