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Fans should be braced for big crowds

The University of New Mexico wants you to know it could be crowded on the south campus on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the Lobo Club emailed its members a “PARKING REMINDER” notice and the school’s website posted an update on some minor alterations to parking procedures in anticipation of Saturday’s Gildan New Mexico Bowl, which starts at 2:30 p.m. in Dreamstyle Stadium, and the No. 23 Arizona Wildcats at UNM Lobos men’s basketball game, which starts at 6 p.m. across the street at Dreamstyle Arena.

“Yes, we are expecting there to be a large crowd for the basketball game,” said Assistant Athletic Director for Events Mike Haggerty.

While that’s good news for UNM (the school said Wednesday that approximately 12,400 tickets have been sold for the basketball game), it also creates the reality that a large basketball crowd will be showing up for the nationally televised 6 p.m. tip-off in the Pit at the same time as a football game that is scheduled for its nationally televised 2:38 p.m. kickoff will be ending.

More specific to the logistics of the day, the parking could be a mess.

The sweet spot, Haggerty admits, will be the basketball game starting before football fans leave the stadium, creating an even higher than normal amount of foot traffic in the area.

Regardless, he said UNM has requested a higher number of officers from the Albuquerque Police Department for traffic control purposes in that cross-over time.

The Stadium West parking lot (between the football stadium and the Pit) that is home to reserved basketball parking for many Lobo Club members will also be used as “VIP” parking for the bowl game and could fill up faster than normal for the basketball game. Anyone with a Lobo Club parking pass can access other lots if Stadium West is full, with the exception of Pit East (reserved for Lobo basketball players and coaches), or lots TLC 1 and TLC 2, which are south of Avenida Cesar Chavez and north of the Pit.

Those two lots will remain free of cars during the football game and will be held for fans with appropriate passes for the basketball game.

Tailgate lots for football open at 8:30 a.m. and can also be accessed then by those with Lobo Club basketball parking passes.

UNM asks that fans try to arrive early in anticipation of the crowds, but understands that isn’t always possible. The staff will try its best to accommodate the larger than normal crowd Saturday, Haggerty said.