Alleva: Football traffic improvements in works

Responding to years of complaints about snarled traffic after LSU home football games, LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said Friday plans are in the works to get cars moving off campus afterwards.

Last year, LSU Athletics officials commissioned a study of parking and traffic issues related to Tiger Stadium with Chicago-based consultants SP+, which has done similar studies for cities hosting Super Bowls and the Olympics.

The recommendations, Alleva told the LSU Board of Supervisors, include ramping up contraflow efforts after games and stationing police officers at different locations to improve traffic direction.

The report, which was not released to the public, also recommended eliminating parking along Nicholson Drive on game days. But Alleva said he didn’t expect that recommendation would be implemented.

Alleva said his office will be meeting with local police in the coming weeks to formalize a plan. “It’s crucial to get fans on the roads as fast as they can after games,” he said.

Members of the Board of Supervisors expressed concerns about a drop in game day attendance.

Alleva said Tiger Stadium is having to compete with the convenience of game day parties with big screen TVs, refrigerators and bathrooms.

He noted that parking and traffic were the biggest complaints from Tiger fans, and said addressing the issue will improve the game day experience.

Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman Cpl, L’Jean McKneely said in an email that officers oversee contraflow after every game. But Senior Associate Athletic Director Eddie Nunez said sometimes the contraflow only consists of closing a lane for incoming traffic, rather than using all lanes for outgoing drivers.

“We have a very good plan in place, we just need to make sure everyone is going to be on the same page,” Nunez said, after the meeting.

Alleva also reported that the stadium expansion will be finished in August, which will bring the total seat count of Tiger Stadium to more than 100,000. There is not an exact seat count available yet.

Supervisor Stanley Jacobs asked whether there were plans to accommodate the 8,000 additional season ticket holders’ vehicles that would be needed after the expansion was complete.

In the short term, Alleva said, the former graduate student apartments on Nicholson Drive, which are being torn down, could be used for temporary parking. But long term, he said, he would like to see a parking garage constructed.

Alleva also presented the board with the results of an economic impact report, conducted by former LSU economics professor Loren Scott.

LSU Athletics generated $397.5 million in new sales to Baton Rouge area firms in 2012, according to the report.

In 2012, 1.5 million people attended an LSU sports event, and civic and community groups who worked the events took in $815,000.

More than 2,700 people are employed to ensure a home game in Tiger Stadium goes smoothly. LSU Athletics also is responsible for almost 4,000 jobs in the Baton Rouge area.

LSU athletic events also generates $2.8 million in new sales taxes for the local governments.

LSU President F. King Alexander said it’s that much more important for LSU to ensure people show up to the games because of the dual impact their dollars have on the business community.

“If we sell 90,000 or 100,000 tickets, but only 70,000 people show up, that’s 30,000 people not showing up to spend their money,” he said. “It’s a restaurant issue, and it’s a hotel issue.”

Follow Rebekah Allen on Twitter @rebekahallen.