In the first Thursday night football game at Scott Stadium in six years, the University of Virginia will face a University of North Carolina team that features one of the nation's most potent offenses and, in tailback Giovani Bernard, one of the nation's most explosive players.
Those around the University charged with making sure the game comes off smoothly face a daunting task, too, as they deal with myriad logistical challenges.
“We're talking about an institution of higher learning that has a full operation going on during the day,” said Jon Oliver, executive associate director of athletics. “We can't expect the University to change how it operates on that day. It's challenging.”
The key is communication. Colette Sheehy, vice president for management and budget, sent an email to the University community about three weeks ago. Parking and Transportation has been alerting staff and faculty who park in certain lots and use University Transit. And President Teresa A. Sullivan assured everyone in an email Wednesday that classes and patient care would carry on without disruption.
Jason Bauman, associate athletics director for facilities and operations, said he, Oliver and athletics director Craig Littlepage have met with many University departments typically not directly involved with football game operations, to be able to address concerns and mitigate the impact of the game.
“We want them to be able to do their jobs,” he said.
About 45,000 people are expected in Scott Stadium for the last home game of the season, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN. Thursday night games are part of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s contract with ESPN.
When Thursday night games occur, many in the University community are affected in some way, Sullivan said.
“Most obvious will be transportation and parking challenges, as fans will be making their way to Scott Stadium at around the same time as many of you are going home,” she wrote in her email. “I ask that you be patient, and give yourself plenty of extra time to travel safely.”
Also, some parking lots will need to be vacated prior to the end of the work day. Parking and Transportation has posted details about altered parking arrangements and bus routes on its website. For fans attending the game, first-come, first-serve and reserved parking will not be available until 5:30 p.m.
Sheehy said managers may use discretion in determining appropriate staffing levels to maintain services on Thursday. For those operations that can support it, managers are encouraged to utilize modified schedules, including the use of annual or compensatory time or any other appropriate measure that allows employees to modify their shifts while still attaining 40 hours during the workweek.
Questions can be referred to:
- Academic Division Employee Leave Schedules: Carrie Harper (434-924-4404 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Classes, Research, Other Academic Programs and Associated Parking Needs: Wynne Stuart (434-924-3728 or email@example.com)
- Medical Center Employee Leave Schedules: Linda Birch (434-924-1151 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Parking: Rebecca White (434-924-6763 or email@example.com)
“Despite its challenges, a weekday game is a special event for many persons in our community and a unique opportunity to highlight U.Va. nationally,” Sheehy said. “I am grateful for everyone’s understanding and support.”