Jacks Bash: Where to park




The South Dakota State campus will almost double with an anticipated 25,000 people attending the Jacks Bash celebration Thursday, Sept. 8.

Arranging parking for the largest event at SDSU in history looks a little like the Smart Driver Traffic Jam puzzle. University officials hope to avoid clogging the streets and creating a chaotic traffic environment by using a complex parking system throughout the night.

Up until Aug. 26, officials were at a loss in how to arrange the influx of concert attendees. RPM Parking Company Inc. helped develop a tier parking system to direct the flow of traffic in and around SDSU.

RPM’s plan starts with figuring out where the largest influx of people will be coming from. Most traffic is expected to come in “from Interstate 29 to the east of campus and they should take exit 133, the bypass exit, to the concert,” Peterson said.

The traffic directors will channel the first waves of people into zone one, which are lots immediately adjacent to the stadium. Once zone one is 80 percent full, zone two will be loaded from Medary and 22nd street, which are lots adjacent to zone one and include the north library lot, west McFadden Biostress lot, North HPER lot and the Performing Arts Center (PAC) lot.

Once level two reaches capacity, the third level will open, which are lots south central of campus, including commuter lots, which should be mostly emptied out by 6 to 7, and any reserve lots. 

“Commuter lots are going to play in, zone one will be kept empty until concert goers arrive, the lots will be barricaded that morning, we’ll have to see how lots clear out through the afternoon,” Peterson said. “We’re not forcing people out of lots throughout the day.”

There are 34 class sections on campus that start at 5 p.m. or later Thursday, which is a main reason why they are barricading and staffing residential lots for west side dorms for those with permits, including lots the big east lot 158, lot 147 in front of Hyde hall and lot 118 by Meadows North apartments.

“[We are] working to provide a parking area in the center of campus for those commuting students and faculty to have a space on campus.

 Currently, residential areas are the fourth tier of parking, however SDSU and RPM are working to make this tier used as little as possible to keep neighborhoods less busy.

“We hope Brookings residents are understanding that it’s one evening, and the university is working to prevent groups of concert goers from walking to their cars in residential areas … Our plan directs concert goers to identified parking zone, via major city arteries [not the residential streets], through signage, “Peterson said.

SDSU has assigned more than 50 people to direct incoming traffic and 20 people to direct outgoing traffic. 

Some students who live closer to campus, such as senior nursing major Mattie Schweers, are planning their own way of avoiding the parking situation all together.

“I’m off campus … so I’m pretty close, so myself and and my roommates and my friends will be walking (and) our friends who are traveling will be parking at our place,” Schweers said. “I’m picking some of my other friends up as well … I think people living within a five-block radius, they’ll be walking, I think it would be safer, too.”

While many official parking details are just recently being released, SDSU has been working in advance with the University Police Department, the Brookings Police Department, the Brookings County Sheriff’s Office, the highway patrol and the South Dakota Department of Transportation to help out with concert planning.

SDSU will use this type of parking model in the future, Peterson said.

“This has helped us look at how we load people for football games; they’re going to leave this plan with us as a good guide and template. It’s been a good synergy with campus and this group,” Peterson said.

Students feel SDSU has the parking situation mostly under control, but that it is hard to predict every possible problem with this number of attendees.

“I think it will be a good blend of chaos and being organized, there will be a lot of people, but I feel SDSU has a good system to keep people in line. I think it’ll be alright,” Schweers said.

Another concern with putting such a large amount of people in a brand new stadium, no less right on the football field itself, is causing damage to the newly finished turf.

According to facilities and services project manager Dave Law, the turf will be covered up and protected.

“It [the turf] shouldn’t be affected at all, it should be covered up, the people planning the concert are telling me they’ll be using the same company that covers up the turf during the halftime show during the Superbowl, so it should be completely protected,” Law said.

The stadium will be ready to take on its first crowd of fans come Thursday, according to Law.

“There’ll be finishing touches taking place but nothing that affects how it [the stadium] operates or functions; for the most part it will all be done,” Law said.

Peterson encouraged concert-attendees to carpool to keep parking to a minimum, expect a 15-minute or longer walk to the show and to have fun.