A city whose residents have never shown an affinity for taking the bus, walking long distances or riding a bike are going to have to do lots of all three if a parking plan unveiled on Tuesday for the new Investors Group Field is going to work.
One of the biggest questions from Day 1 surrounding the construction of a new football stadium on the University of Manitoba's Fort Garry campus was the transportation of up to 33,500 fans from a site with only two major entry and exit points.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers provided the long-awaited answer at a news conference at the new stadium, unveiling a nine-point transportation-and-parking plan that will make use of private vehicles, shuttles and upgraded transit service, private lots, park-and-ride depots and even bicycles.
Perhaps anticipating a backlash to the team's complex game-day plan -- complaints from the public were much in evidence on Twitter and online within hours of Tuesday's news conference -- Bombers vice-president and chief operating officer Jim Bell urged Winnipeggers to have patience as the club works the kinks out.
"Given that this is the first year of this event-day plan, we ask everyone involved to be patient as we all adjust to our new CFL home here at Investors Group Field," said Bell. "Evaluation is certainly an important part of this plan and so if changes need to be made, we will make every effort to address them in a timely fashion."
The team also announced Tuesday a ban on on-street parking on major routes or in neighbourhoods near the stadium, notably University Heights and Fort Richmond, in the hours up to, during and after games or concerts.
Bell told reporters residents in the affected neighbourhoods will be issued a single parking pass to allow them to have one vehicle parked on the street during the affected hours. Bell said residents with more than one vehicle per household will be urged to park their other vehicles in driveways or garages.
And if a resident wants to have guests over for dinner -- or even to watch the game on TV -- during the affected hours? Bell didn't really have an answer, repeating his earlier assertion the plan the team unveiled Tuesday came after lengthy consultations with area residents.
"Our hope, really," said Bell, "is that we'll all work hard to be good neighbours to make this work."
With effectively no free street parking within short walking distance of the new stadium, Winnipeggers who want to drive to games or concerts are going to have to deal with another thing Winnipeggers hate to do -- pay for parking.
Bell said only fans who have paid $210 for a season parking pass, as well as university students and staff, will be allowed to park on the U of M campus on game or concert days.
And those passes are selling quickly -- about 4,000 of a maximum 5,000 parking passes have already been sold. Bell said the club expects the remaining passes to sell out quickly.
Bell said motorists without parking passes will be able to park at "booster lots" on Pembina Highway. He said a number of Pembina Highway businesses have agreed to offer paid parking on their lots on game day and concert days. Bell said free 'Running Back Shuttles' provided by Winnipeg Transit will serve those lots before and after games. Bell said fans should expect to pay somewhere between $10 to $15 at the private parking lots.
Steve West, the city's corporate communications manager, said the Bombers, university officials and the city will have a "a team out on event days monitoring how the event-day plan works."
The monitoring will take into account post-event survey results, tickets issued, vehicles towed, accidents reported, 311 calls, transit ridership, bike-valet use and a parked-vehicle count.
Any subsequent changes to the plan will be posted online at www.investorsgroupfield.ca, West said.
U of M marketing and communications director John Danakas said Tuesday the university is designating 1,660 parking spots for U of M students and staff.
Information is posted at www.umanitoba.ca. Some of the lots are for students living in residence.
-- with files from Nick Martin and Randy Turner