Tourney's biggest battles could be for parking spaces.
High school basketball won't be the only sport taking place this week at the University of Oregon. Fans will be competing in some championship rounds of "hunting for parking."
Parking spots are expected to be in short supply at times as thousands of hoop fans make the pilgrimage to McArthur Court for the OSAA Class 4A boys basketball tournament Thursday through Saturday. With no dedicated parking for the tourney, spectators will have to compete with UO students and staff for limited parking slots on campus.
The Oregon School Activities Association is bringing the event back to Eugene for the first time since 1966. And it's a slimmer and trimmer tournament, with only eight teams instead of the 16 that played during the 38 years it was held in Portland.
But those eight teams, which include South Eugene High and top-ranked South Medford, typically are among the strongest draws in high school sports, so parking will be tight. Local hotels already are filling up for an event that could pump $3 million into the local economy.
On top of that, this is the week before finals, a period known as "dead week." And that means students and faculty likely will be spending more time than usual on campus.
Rand Stamm, parking manager for the UO Department of Public Safety, said that's something campus officers will need to take into account.
"A lot of what would be an ordinary schedule sort of gets turned on its head because students are coming in at different hours," he said. "The Knight Library is open 24/7, for instance. So it's one of those times when we have to make sure they can get here as well."
Finding a place to park on campus is a challenge on the best days, and officials from the university and the city are giving basketball fans the same advice they give others planning a visit: The best way to go is to leave the car at home.
"A lot of folks will probably stay at hotels on Franklin Boulevard and walk, and that's definitely the best way to get there - walk or ride the bus," said Kay Kronholm, the city's parking enforcement manager. "I can't stress that enough."
Lane Transit District buses make regular trips to campus from the downtown station at 11th Avenue and Willamette Street. Also, the Breeze shuttle makes a continuous loop from downtown to the UO and Valley River Center, and for only 25 cents.
Representatives from LTD and the OSAA sat down and talked about the idea of running dedicated shuttles to the tournament, as LTD does during the Duck basketball and football seasons. But in the end, the association decided against it.
For one thing, OSAA Executive Director Tom Welter said, shuttles never caught on when the tournament was in Portland, so the association doesn't have a budget for it.
For another, getting people to ride a shuttle for a one-time, short-term event is a lot more difficult than it is when you're running it for 10 or 20 regular-season games.
"We weren't sure we could get them into that routine in 2 1/2 days," Welter said. "By the time people got the system down, the tournament would be over."
And UO and OSAA staff know many folks will want to drive to campus. This being the tournament's first time back in town in 38 years, parking officials said they'll try to be lenient, especially right outside Mac Court.
"We're excited to have the OSAA here," Stamm said. "We will try to be very understanding about parking meters on University Street and be very flexible about that."
Nevertheless, parking limits will be enforced, both on campus and in nearby neighborhoods. To make things a little easier, the OSAA worked with the city to create a special permit that will allow people to park all day on nonmetered streets that normally are limited to two-hour stays.
The $8 permit is good for both Thursday and Friday. Only 300 will be issued, and they were offered to people buying advance tournament tickets. The rest go on sale Wednesday morning at the Mac Court ticket office.
The permits do not guarantee a parking space. Like most parking permits on campus, they only amount to a "hunting license."
Parking will be most difficult during the games scheduled for Thursday and Friday afternoons. That's when more people will be on campus, when all the meters are checked and parking limits are in place.
Things get better after 6 p.m. and on Saturday, when there's less activity on campus. Some campus lots that are open weekdays only to those with a campus permit are open to the public evenings and weekends, but be sure to check the signs.
"The last thing we want is for someone to drive down totally unaware and think they've parked in a legal space and find themselves with a $25 ticket or their car is gone," Welter said.
The bottom line? Be prepared to spend some time hunting for parking and then walking a few blocks to the arena. And if you end up at a metered space between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., have lots of quarters.
"We're really excited to have all the folks back in town," Kronholm said. "It should be a fun time for everyone."
Visitors to the Class 4A basketball tournament will compete with UO students and faculty and neighborhood residents for limited parking spaces. Here's a quick guide to the streets around Mac Court.
General information: No special parking areas have been set aside for the tournament. Lane Transit District buses run frequent trips to campus from the downtown station at 11th Avenue and Willamette Street; the LTD Breeze shuttle also stops at the UO. For schedule information, visit LTD at www.ltd.org or call 687-5555. No special tournament shuttles will operate. Bus fares are $1.25 for adults, 60 cents for youths and 25 cents for the Breeze shuttle.
Parking meters: Metered spaces are located on campus on University and Agate streets, East 15th and 18th avenues, Alder Street and some streets immediately west of campus. Meters are enforced Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cost is 25 cents for 20 minutes. Most campus meters have five-hour time limits, but some are shorter; check the meter for the time limit.
Residential streets: Parking on streets in the neighborhoods to the south, east and west of the university generally is limited to two hours Monday through Friday, except for those with special permits. Hours of enforcement vary and are posted on signs. A total of 300 temporary residential parking permits are available for $8 through the Oregon School Activities Association. The permits allow all-day parking Thursday and Friday, and those not already sold to advance ticket buyers will be available at the Mac Court ticket office Wednesday. Or call (503) 682-6722, Ext. 222, for permit information.
Parking lots: Parking lots on the UO campus are reserved for those with UO parking permits Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, many lots can be used by the public on evenings and weekends; check parking lot signs for regulations or contact the UO public safety office at 346-5444.
Citations: The fine for over-limit parking is $10 on city streets. On campus, the over-limit fine is $15 at meters and $20 for parking in a lot without a valid permit. Campus public safety officers enforce meters inside the area bounded by 13th and 18th avenues and University and Agate streets, as well as all UO parking lots. City parking officers enforce meters and streets outside those boundaries.