U looking at off-campus shuttles to stadium

It wouldnâÄôt be quite like the train Hawkeye fans can take to Iowa football games , but the University of Minnesota is looking at providing transportation from off-campus locations to the new stadium next fall. Parking and Transportation Services is tabulating results from an online survey sent to football season-ticket holders to gauge interest in a potential service. The purpose of the service would be to provide fans who donâÄôt want to deal with parking on campus with an alternative way of getting to TCF Bank Stadium , PTS spokeswoman Mary Sienko said. There will be about 3,200 parking spaces near the stadium by the time it opens , she said. While preliminary results have indicated an interest, the University still has to find a partner to actually provide the service. That potential partner could be Metro Transit . The company has been communicating with the University on the issue and will utilize the survey results to help determine the viability of a service, spokesman Bob Gibbons said in an e-mail statement. Metro Transit would use some of its existing park and ride lots in the metro area, according to the statement. Existing cities in the metro area that have lots include Plymouth, Maplewood and Fridley. âÄúThose lots are heavily used on weekdays and much less on Saturdays, when most college games are played,âÄù Gibbons said. Metro Transit is looking for ways to accommodate fans who took the light-rail to the Metrodome for Gopher games in the past. Even if final survey results indicate high demand for a shuttle service, Sienko pointed out that it wonâÄôt necessarily be a good predictor of use. âÄúWhat [people] say and what they actually do sometimes donâÄôt match up,âÄù she said. If the off-campus shuttle partnership doesnâÄôt materialize, the University is still planning an on-campus transportation service that would include shuttles from the St. Paul campus and East Bank to the stadium area. Pending contract negotiations with the Minnesota State Fair , the University also hopes to utilize lots on the fairgrounds to bus fans to the stadium area. Ohio State University launched a similar service about 10 years ago when it partnered with the Central Ohio Transit Authority , company spokesman Marty Stutz said. Buckeye fans can park at the state fairgrounds, and for around $10 they take a shuttle to and from Ohio Stadium, which seats more than twice as many fans as the Gopher stadium will . The service has become so popular that some fans have said they wouldnâÄôt go to games if they had to drive to campus, Stutz said. âÄúItâÄôs not the crowd thatâÄôs going to hang out and party in the morning and party all night after the game, theyâÄôre folks who just want a quick, convenient way to get in and out of the game,âÄù he said.