Officials at the Naval Academy have found at least a temporary solution to a potential parking problem at Saturday's season-opening game between the Midshipmen and No. 11 Georgia Tech.
The state yesterday granted permission for the school to use a 400-space lot a quarter-mile from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which will hold overflow parking. The lot, known as "Lot C," is located off Rowe Boulevard near the state capital.
The school had been using a 1,200-space lot at Germantown Elementary School, a half-block from the stadium, but construction has eliminated all but 300 of those spots.
Traffic police and street signs will direct fans to the new lot once the others are full. The lot, normally used by state officials, is free to the public on weekends. Navy officials said no shuttle bus service is needed, because of the close proximity to the stadium.
"I would say we're right about where we normally are with spaces," said Gene Taylor, Navy's assistant athletic director for operations. "If we get 300 out of Germantown and 400 out of Lot C, that's typically what we've always parked in Germantown on a standard 28,000 to 30,000 crowd."
Taylor said the stadium lots can accommodate approximately 4,300 cars -- not including spaces reserved for buses and tailgating. He said that typically accounts for about 26,000 fans, which is the number of tickets that had been sold as of yesterday.
With walk-up purchases, a crowd of 29,000 is expected.
"I don't see any problems other than what we'd normally get for a normal crowd," Taylor said. "Some people may have to walk a little farther, but it will be a standard parking situation. I feel very confident about that."
A bigger test could come Sept. 18, when Navy hosts Boston College. School officials said 31,000 tickets already have been sold for that game.
The school has tossed around a number of ideas for more long-term solutions, including the use of shuttle buses, though no official plan has yet been formulated.