New University of Michigan football parking guidelines at local golf club have many upset
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 AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2554 or firstname.lastname@example.org