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U of M first in line for spots

Some parking to be reserved on Bomber game days

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Regular users of the University of Manitoba will have first dibs on some of the campus parking spaces during Winnipeg Blue Bombers football games.

No decision has been made on how many parking spots or which parking spots will be reserved for university use, U of M public affairs director John Danakas emphasized Wednesday.

"We don't have a number now," he said. "We're trying to figure out how many stalls, which stalls, we need for offices and libraries."

U of M also needs to set aside spaces for access to its recreation facilities, Danakas said.

"I'd be surprised if it would be more than 1,000," Danakas said. "I know we have more than 6,000 (parking spaces on campus), and I've heard 7,100 bandied about."

Danakas said the university will unveil plans soon that will protect campus access during Winnipeg Blue Bombers football games for students, staff and regular users.

"Provisions are being made to accommodate activities taking place on the campus on game days unrelated to the football game," Danakas said. "A committee... is looking at plans to ensure those activities can continue as close to normal as possible," he said.

University students are also letting their feelings about parking spots be known.

"It's all about the Bombers and the (neighbouring) residents -- I am shocked that no one has considered the students who go to the university," said mature student Janice Dehod. "We pay for our parking. It's like the Bombers have the right to take students' parking spots.

"It is a university first... " Dehod said.

Winnipeg's indoor-soccer complex expects to keep control of at least 200 of its 660 parking spaces just west of the new stadium.

Winnipeg Soccer Federation executive director Devon Kashton said the complex expects to operate normally during football games. In the fall, there are four adult soccer matches every hour on Friday evenings and four children's matches every 75 minutes during the day Saturdays and Sundays.

"Certainly, there'll be parking available for anyone renting at our facility," Kashton said. "I don't anticipate during Bombers games we'll have any challenges to parking."

Getting to the soccer complex amid the traffic congestion expected before football games is a different matter, but there's more than a year to work that out, Kashton said.

Visitors use many of the university's facilities, primarily recreational areas such as the Joyce Fromson swimming pool, Investors Group gym and the Max Bell Centre.

U of M is building a $45-million fitness centre that is due to open in late 2013, within a long punt of the football stadium.

"One of the first things to do was to audit activity on game days last football season," Danakas said. "The committee is in the process now of working out the details to make that sort of activity work: access to university facilities for students and staff and for visitors."

CFL teams use two other university stadiums. However, the University of Calgary's McMahon Stadium is several blocks from campus and close to a light-rail line, and McGill University's Molson Stadium in Montreal is at the edge of campus next to a subway station and major bus routes.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 14, 2011 A5

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