By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- You can tailgate by a pond, set up in a cleared wooded area and find new parking as close as a block or two from Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn is adding more than 2,000 free parking and tailgate spots for this football season in response to a survey that said fans wanted more of each to enhance their game-day experience. Most of the new areas will be for cars, some for recreational vehicles and some strictly for tailgating.
The university is removing restrictive pipe and chains and bollards to allow access in some areas, as well as adding restrooms, lighting and parking attendants to other lots. The additional parking and tailgating will be in seven new areas.
"Our fans have told us how important parking and tailgating are, and today we are taking a significant step to address it," said Athletics Director Jay Jacobs. "These changes are just the beginning, not the end, of what will be ongoing efforts to make the game-day experience at Auburn the best it can be."
Auburn will again offer free parking for the adventurous, and paid parking for those who want a guaranteed spot.
Auburn's approach: Be proactive in opening the campus up to fans.
"We have to continue to do things to make it fun to come to Auburn for a football game and buy tickets," Jacobs said. "We need to be more inclusive. We want to make it more enjoyable when they come here, whether they go to the game or not."
Auburn, like other SEC schools, has studied its options, said Scott Carr, Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs.
“High-definition televisions are certainly a competitor of ours, so for us, what is it that your living room and your couch and TV at your house can't recreate? Our goal is to have a great tailgating and gameday experience with an Auburn feel. We want our fans to be able to spend time with family and friends and enjoy those traditions of tailgating on campus," Carr said. "This is certainly an initiative of enhancing that tailgating experience knowing that Auburn has always had some of the best tailgating in the country.
"We know that a Saturday game is more than just three hours in Jordan-Hare Stadium. We're really trying to create that full day, or even a full weekend."
Carr said the university found areas that had not been used and also discovered under-utilized areas for parking and tailgating. The university is maintaining existing parking for cars and RVs, including lots and parking decks. Tiger Transit will move 14,000-15,000 fans beginning four hours before kickoff from university and off-campus parking areas. Most fans will choose to walk to Jordan-Hare.
"A lot of our fans wanted the free parking and free tailgating, but there are some that want the paid, hassle-free parking and tailgating," Carr said. "They want to get their parking pass or tailgating spot in advance, knowing that they can show up on Saturday and go straight to their spot and it's guaranteed. We wanted to do that we could to meet the needs of both groups."
Most parking and tailgating areas will open at 4 p.m. on Fridays. The rest will open Saturday mornings.
Paid parking and reserved tailgating spots can be purchased online.
Some of the additional parking will include the South Donahue corridor between South College and Samford Avenue. Parking will be available on the grass above the curb on South Donahue and a lot will be open on the north end of Donahue adjacent to Lem Morrison Drive.
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More free parking will be available in Weagle Woods behind the Forestry and Wildlife building at the corner of South Donahue and Lem Morrison; at West Samford Avenue near Duncan Drive and south of the old track on west Samford; along the outside of the intramural fields on Biggio Drive as well as the intramural field house parking lot on Biggio; at the facilities division building off of West Samford Avenue as well as farther down West Samford; in front of the Carol Draughon Village complex, where permanent barriers are being torn down to allow fans to park and tailgate in the grass.
Paid options include the Tailgate Guys at tailgateguysau.com, Tailgate at the Park offered by the College of Agriculture at Ag Heritage Park, available at ag.auburn.edu/tailgate, and reserved parking lots maintained by AAA Parking and available online at parkwhiz.com.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Goldberg on Twitter: