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Pine Tree officials redo Pirate Stadium parking plan

By Sarah Thomas sthomas@news-journal.com
Oct. 9, 2013 at 10 p.m.

High school football fans who attend Friday night's game at Pirate Stadium will find what a district spokeswoman called "redefined" parking, an effort officials hope will cure parking woes that plagued the $16 million stadium since opening day.

Fans entering the stadium Friday night will be directed to one of four parking lots: home side parking, visitor parking, campus parking or Lear Park parking.

Drivers will be funneled in through three entrances: the main entrance at 3737 W. Loop 281 and entrances into Lear Park from either Cotton Street or H.G. Mosley Parkway.

Vickie Echols, district spokeswoman, said Wednesday the decision to redo the parking plan and divert traffic to specific lots <a href="http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/pine-tree-isd-trustees-to-discuss-football-stadium-parking-dilemma/article_b7d1f5e2-3c4b-5ddc-b819-fffe0ede32ba.html" target="_blank">came after meetings</a> with administrators, facility service representatives, the event coordinator and Longview police who provide security during games.

Shuttle buses will begin at 6:30 p.m. from the Lear lot and the campus lots and run continually throughout the night and after the game has completed. A shuttle bus pick up and drop off point will be available on both sides of the stadium, according to the new plan.

"The changes described will begin at this Friday's game, Oct. 11th, and continue for future games, if all goes well as planned. Feedback from traffic control issues that occurred at previous games was taken into account," Echols said in an email statement.

Some frustrated taxpayers <a href="http://www.news-journal.com/blogs/talk_of_east_texas/reports-traffic-a-mess-at-friday-s-pine-tree-home/article_40d92b6a-1eed-11e3-b012-0019bb2963f4.html" target="_blank">vented on Facebook</a> after the Sept. 13 game between Pine Tree and Kilgore, calling the parking situation "horrible."

Echols said that feedback helped the district consider ways to improve parking.

"We appreciate the feedback we received, and plan to continue communicating on a regular basis. Our goal is to offer an enjoyable experience, and we realize that the best way to reach that goal is to be responsive," she said.

The Pine Tree ISD Pirate Stadium is scheduled to host the football game <a href="http://www.news-journal.com/etvarsity/texarkana-texas-pine-tree/game_6146c15a-0b60-11e3-b6b7-0019bb2963f4.html" target="_blank">against Texas High on Friday</a>.

The main entrance off Loop 281 will be dedicated to home side parking, Echols said.

Visitors will be routed to one of the two entrances leading to Lear Park. The entrance leading to the campuses will not be open. A sign will be posted directing traffic to either the home or visitor side parking lots. A sign will be displayed for cars to begin parking at alternate locations once stadium lots are full.

The city of Longview zoning ordinance requires one paved parking space for every three seats at a stadium or arena-type facility, city spokesman Shawn Hara said this past month.

The stadium was built without adequate parking, but the city and the district shared a parking agreement allowing additional parking at Lear Park as long as space is available, Hara said, as part of an ordinance that allows the stadium to use adjacent parking.

Pirate Stadium has 922 parking spaces but the city ordinance requires a venue of its size to have 1,967 parking spaces.

"We gained some valuable insights after the first two events," Assistant Superintendent James Skeeler said in a statement released Wednesday. "We want to solve the issue of getting people into the facility and parked in a safe and orderly manner. We may not get all the kinks worked out just like we want them, but our goal is to provide an enjoyable experience for all involved."

The district also requested that anyone with questions related to stadium entrances and parking, call Skeeler at (903) 295-5000.



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