Gophers football fans cried foul Tuesday when Minneapolis park officials unexpectedly sacked tailgating and parking on the grassy field at the East River Flats Park.
Within hours, fans won a reversal.
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) officials made the initial announcement on their Facebook page early Tuesday afternoon, just two days before the season opener.
“This decision follows MPRB ordinances and will help to prevent further damage to parkland not intended for vehicle parking,” it said. “Effective immediately, all parking at East River Flats parking lot will be restricted to paved surfaces only.”
Fans quickly took park officials to task for a “staggeringly shortsighted decision.” Others lambasted them for the last-minute announcement, 48 hours before the Gophers kick off their season at TCF Bank against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
“Not a good look for the park board to throw this at fans 2 DAYS BEFORE THE GAME! Especially since there are no other affordable alternatives anywhere near campus,” Facebook user Brian Buck Olsen wrote on the Park Board’s Facebook page.
Another noted that hundreds of people park in the grassy area along the Mississippi River near the U campus. The flats are about a mile from the stadium. “Do you honestly think everyone is going to get this message before Thursday?” Tim Ammerman asked in his post.
Others criticized the decision as just plain bad.
“This was not a lush grassland before tailgating started. It was a weed patch before, and it is still a weed patch,” posted Mary Stepnick, adding that the parking fees could be used for repairs.
Within about three hours, park officials reversed their decision — at least for this football season.
“Mea culpa. We heard you,” they wrote. “We didn’t realize how significant the impact would be to fans. We will allow parking and tailgating for this football season and will revisit this decision over the winter. We will communicate the status of tailgate parking in the spring.”
The reversal immediately brought relief to some grateful fans. “Thank you for hearing our voices,” posted Nick Scoop Walsh.
But proving that you can’t please all the people all the time, others jabbed the Park Board, saying it “caved to pressure.”
“MPRB should absolutely not be using our green spaces as parking lots,” posted Timothy Clemens.