MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University’s athletics director says the school will make sure neutral-site facilities are prepared for the fanbases at future Mountaineers football games.
This follows heavy traffic snarls preceding Sunday night’s loss to Virginia Tech at FedEx Field. Part of that was attributable to Washington Redskins management opening the parking lots only four hours before kickoff.
“We did warn them, along with Virginia Tech, that the four hours in advance of the game time was not going to be adequate,” Shane Lyons said on Metronews “Talkline” with Hoppy Kercheval Thursday morning. “We thought that it should be at noon or one o’clock.”
Criticism has been hurled in numerous directions following traffic and parking meltdown in the runup to the long-awaited return of the Battle for the Black Diamond Trophy in Landover, Md. Lyons said his department and officials from Virginia Tech forewarned the Redskins about a logistical nightmare if early tailgaters weren’t allowed in.
“Therefore we had a bottleneck of traffic that I’ve been told was eight miles out,” Lyons said. “That’s taking three hours to get there. It was not a very good experience.”
Lyons said all parties were disappointed in that decision — and the predictable chaos that ensued.
“We knew there would be 65,000 or 70,000 people showing up,” Lyons said. “In years past, we’ve had games there (and) it’s been smaller crowds. We knew our fan base, along with Virginia Tech, is a very passionate, tailgating type of fan. Things needed to be done sooner.”
The Mountaineers have two addition neutral-site games scheduled in upcoming years — in Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta. There’s nothing on the schedule that brings the Mountaineers back to FedEx Field, but Lyons said the gates would need to open significantly earlier if the Mountaineers ever did return.
“I will tell you that if we do ever go back to D.C. that will be part of the game contract,” he said.
Virginia Tech released a statement to their fans regarding their experience, which can be read here.