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Lots near football stadium closed Friday
Large crowd expected for Gainesville-Flowery Branch playoff game
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Parking lots at the Gainesville Civic Center and the Martha Hop Cabin will not be open to football fans this Friday night due to prior private holiday party rentals. The two facilities normally allow parking in their lots for fans visiting City Park Stadium. Gainesville takes on Flowery Branch on Friday night in the Class AAA state football semifinals.

Class AAA playoffs
Semifinals
Who: Flowery Branch at Gainesville
Where: City Park
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $10; For Gainesville, season ticket holders can pick up their tickets today or Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the main lobby of Gainesville High School. General admission tickets will be available beginning 10 a.m. Thursday. For Flowery Branch, tickets can be purchased 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday in the main office at Flowery Branch High School.
Tailgate: Gainesville High will hold a tailgate catered by Johnny’s BBQ from 5-7 p.m. Friday in the Green Street pool parking lot.

Stay updated with area high school football on the Blitz.

Friday’s playoff game between local high school football rivals Gainesville and Flowery Branch is sure to draw quite a crowd.

But with two parking lots near City Park Stadium closed, parking could be a challenge.

The Gainesville Civic Center and the Martha Hope Cabin both are rented for private events during the Class AAA state semifinal game Friday, said Julie Butler Colombini, marketing and communications coordinator for Gainesville Parks and Recreation.

"They are holiday events that have been scheduled for a very long time now," she said.

When the facility is not rented, football fans can pay to park in the lot.

Gainesville school officials have a plan to get by with fewer parking spaces near the stadium.

Gainesville High School Athletic Director Wayne Vickery said the parking lot at Lakewood Baptist Church on Thompson Bridge Road will be available for City Park pilgrims.

"We’re going to run a shuttle for people who don’t think they can get a parking spot (near the stadium)," Vickery said.

Three school buses will be on hand Friday evening to transport people to and from Lakewood Baptist Church and the stadium every 15 minutes. Additional police officers also will be on duty to make sure things run smoothly.

Vickery said he doesn’t think the absence of Civic Center parking will make too much of an impact.

"We’ve had big games at City Park before," Vickery said. "Hopefully we can control this."

Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said another thing that will help make traffic and parking smoother Friday is the rival team.

"Most of the Flowery Branch fans are familiar with the area," Dyer said. "We have a really good relationship with Flowery Branch, and we don’t expect any problems."

Dyer said by midweek, officials will settle any remaining details about parking.

First Baptist Church on Green Street has offered its lot for the game, and Gainesville Middle School and the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center are other possible parking locations that could be used in conjunction with a shuttle.

Neighborhoods near the stadium, which are often used for parking during regular season games, are also an option.

"We do want people to respect the neighborhoods and not block driveways," Dyer said. "We’re hoping people will take advantage of our shuttle."

Gainesville Traffic Engineer Dee Taylor said there are a few on-street parking restrictions in Gainesville’s municipal code.

Parking is prohibited on Glenwood Drive from Riverside Drive to Memorial Drive, on Park Hill Drive from Riverside Drive to Morningside Drive and on the west side of Prior Street from Memorial Drive to Candler Street, Taylor said.

Dyer said the parking situation has proved to be just a small bump and hasn’t hampered the excitement leading up to the football game.

"Everyone’s trying to pitch in. Some of our drivers said they’ll volunteer," Dyer said. "It’s a special occasion for Gainesville and Hall County and we need to do what we can to make it a great night."

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