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Posted on Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 9:02 a.m.

New University of Michigan football parking guidelines at local golf club have many upset

By Jeff Arnold

Kevin Werner can't remember a time when part of his Michigan football experience didn't involve tailgating in the Ann Arbor Golf and Outing Club parking lot.

But after the club changed its parking guidelines earlier this summer, Werner and others like him are considering parking elsewhere this fall and establishing a new game-day ritual.

Werner is one of more than 300 residents who signed a petition protesting an AAGOC parking policy change, which calls for parking customers in designated areas and not opening new areas until previous ones are filled. The rules also say tailgaters must used canopies rather than tents and must set up their canopies behind their cars in order to use up only one spot.

Ann Arbor Park And Outing Club's Board of Directors restated its support of the changes in a Monday meeting.

"Our decision is that all patrons are best served by parking in the spaces we direct them to in order for us to have them park properly, place canopies in the proper space behind any vehicle and occupy one space, not two or more spaces," Golf and Outing parking director Larry Eiler wrote in an e-mail.

Club officials say that in the past, emergency and security vehicles have struggled to maneuver due to the way fans parked, and these changes will allow them to better control the traffic flow on Michigan game day.

While the $40 parking charge won't change, the club is considering charging for the canopies, another possible policy change that may push customers like Werner to new locations.

Werner, a 35-year-old computer systems analyst in Ann Arbor, is unhappy with the changes.

"It's a shame - a real shame that the traditions of hundreds and relationships of many and a special aspect of this community is giving way to stubbornness," Werner said Tuesday.

Werner has been parking in the same area since he tailgated with friends in college 15 years ago. Like other long-time customers, he considers his traditional spots hallowed, and fears his location will change on a weekly basis and old friends will struggle to find each other.

Rather than keeping in touch through e-mail or phone, Werner often relies on seeing old friends in the spot where he and his family have parked for years.

Werner said that he, along with others, have tried to offer a compromise to club officials trying to keep their parking plan in place to no avail.

Jeff Carter, Ann Arbor Golf and Outing president, wrote in a letter to club members that outside opinions have received due consideration, but the changes are ultimately about safety.

"We do value the opinions expressed to us by long-time parkers and have taken several weeks to reevaluate our decision," Carter wrote. "Please consider when you have visited ANY parking venue where you have been allowed to park wherever and however you wished.

"The changes are entirely about safety and security for both guests and members."

Jeff Arnold covers sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2554 or



Sat, Aug 29, 2009 : 12:13 p.m.

I have been parking on the golf course for 23 years this season. I understand the need to generate money, the need for safety, and I understand that it is private property. However, the reasoning behind the change baffles me. Last season, for the Michigan vs MI State game, we were asked to move our vehicles closer together to create more room (which we did with no problem). At the same time the gentleman asked us to move our canopy to the back as well (which we did). This was in efforts to pack in vehicles four deep in front of us, which is a huge safety issue. Our party has no problem with following rules, but we don't want to hear the excuse of safety issues when the people parking the vehicles create the biggest problem of all. I am not going to say that I will never park there again, but it won't be often. It is ridiculous to pay $40 and not be able to park by our friends to enjoy the tailgating experience.


Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : 11:36 p.m.

I thought Michigan fans are embracing all the changes? Isnt a complete and total rebuild what you desire? a2 must learn to stay inside the box. do not color outside the lines. Surrender and Conform. All these people will be back this year and for years to come. bunch of cry babies wont want to walk 3 miles to the front gate, and they aren't the buss riding type of a crowd.


Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : 5:49 p.m.

Some may defend the policies, but the fact remains that nothing was done in previous years to address canopy location, safety issues, or it being a problem to park in the same spot for decades. As opposed to working with their patrons, they decided to blow it up. The question seems to be "Why can't people go to "their spot" and follow safety guidelines?" There is no obvious answer. It is their property and they can do as they wish, but angry customers don't usually come back. They are in fact running a business that generates hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. Simple solutions were proposed and met with stubbornness. We are taking our business elsewhere and hope many will do the same.


Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : 10:04 a.m.

The AAG&O has some nerve dictating what happens on their private property. It is completely unreasonable for them to try to generate revenue to repair their golf course that is ruined by the complainers.


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 7:38 p.m.

After 10 years of tailgating here, we will be looking elsewere. It's not so much the canopy rule, as much as the assigned parking. We parked by the same tree, off the back fairway, for the last 10 we can't. Time to start a new tailgating tradition.


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 4:24 p.m.

Come to Belmar Place street, 1 block West of the Big House (runs parallel to Main). We've had seasonal parkers for years and you'll love the set up.

Alan Benard

Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 4:16 p.m.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, this decision has cost our church $8,000 a year in assistance in exchange for our volunteer efforts to help park cars. But I don't blame AAGO for the situation at all. They are under pressure from the Washtenaw Co. Sheriff, which has had to deal with violence issues and the blocking of safety access by those bad apples who think they own the place for $40. Those are the folks to blame for spoiling the party.


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 2:06 p.m.

Amazing that people can complain about what AAGOC is doing. Remember this is private property and the only people that have a right to park there are members. By the way members treat the property with TLC which cannot be said about a great many of the non-member public parkers. My guess is there is not a money agenda here as some of the buffoons are suggesting. It is a free world and people can go park elsewhere. The buffoons lambasting AAGOC are surely free to go. There is not a venue in the Big Ten that allows people to park where they want and in a haphazard fashion. I say it is about time AAGOC tightened up its parking. Go mess up somebody elses yard.


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 1:26 p.m.

Michigan State should just quit playing football. Sure, they might be able to beat Montana, but they have no business being on the same field with Our Mighty Blue!!!


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 11:54 a.m.

I visited a friend parked at the golf course last year and it was definitely a safety problem. If we had a problem where he was parked, it would have been impossible to get an emergency vehicle close. That said, the pay for canopies is just plain wrong. They should make accommodations for those willing to pay for more than one spot to do there party.

Man in the Mirror

Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 10:25 a.m.

I feel ya pain, but after all it's the NEW MICHIGAN with NEW TRADITIONS and STUBBORNESS is part of that. It's unfortunate, it is what it is.


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 10:15 a.m.

At least UM has nice venues around the Big House to have a nice tailgate. The MSU facilities are atrocious. RR will have Michigan winning so many championships soon that they'll need to expand the Big House to 200,000 fans! Go Blue!!!


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 10:10 a.m.

We've been at the same spot for 6 years and now are looking elsewhere. Make no mistake about it, the primary motivation of AAGO is greed and squeezing as many cars into their lot as possible. Considering there has been ZERO effort made my AAGO to clean up aisles or position canopies "properly," safety is just the cover for trying to bleed UM fans for a few more dollars. If safety were the true reason, why haven't the rules changed for literally decades? Apparently, hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenue, that any CC in MI would kill for right now, is not enough. Anyone considering parking at AAGO should reconsider. Park at the UM course, Pioneer, in someone's yard, save the $40. Don't park at AAGO. Hopefully these measures will be met with a drop in revenue and member dues increasing. By confirming their policies after loyal customers have loudly complained illustrates the arrogance and stubbornness of AAGO. Until the old rules are put back in place, we'll take our $320 per season elsewhere. Thanks for ruining something that was special. GO BLUE!

Cindy Heflin

Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 9:54 a.m.

Thanks Stan. Error fixed.


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 9:49 a.m.

You might want to change the 'has' to 'have' in the title.