University Heights police confident ahead of Hawkeyes' biggest home game this season

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Iowa (KCRG) - The University of Iowa Hawkeyes will host its biggest home football game of the season against Penn State Saturday night, and police in University Heights say so far this year, they have not seen many issues on game days ahead of kickoff.

Cars go by on Melrose Ave. in University Heights on October 11, 2019. Melrose Ave. becomes one-way traffic in all lanes on game days, at about the third quarter. (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)

For a department of veterans led by a chief who has only spent months on the job, they believe heading into the game the department is prepared, and they are offering advice for people either going to the game or trying to get around it.

As the chief of the University Heights Police Department, Chief Troy Kelsay is leading his first football season. He said so far this year, things from complaints to traffic have flown pretty well.

"I used to avoid this area like the plague when I attended the games and that is no longer the case," Chief Kelsay said. "We do a really good job at getting people in and out."

Chief Kelsay says the police department has not handed out a single ticket on game days for any infraction.

"We have not had to ticket anybody," Chief Kelsay said. "I've asked that some cars be removed. I've been fortunate to find the people that were responsible for them. So that has worked well."

Chief Kelsay said their communication with people is key, especially on game days. He said it is important to avoid ruining a potentially great day and great experience with a ticket at the end of the game.

"People do comply with requests, with me walking up and chatting with them instead of some gaggle of officers showing up and saying: 'alright, we're here to write tickets,'" Chief Kelsay said. "It makes it an unpleasant event, it ruins what should be a fun time, and it just leaves everybody with a sour taste in their mouth."

Chief Kelsay said there might be a way to offer advice to people, specifically as it relates to parking. He said while many places in University Heights have parking bans during game days, Marietta Ave. has a number of angled street parking spots. The spots are about a half-mile walk to Kinnick Stadium.

Chief Kelsay said he believes the spaces are under-utilized, and they sell game-day permits either by game for $40, or season passes for $30 per game. He said while he understands why some people might think the spots are just up for grabs, it is permit-only parking, meaning people could be stuck with a minimum of a $45 ticket, or more depending on if they are towed.

"I will go out and I'll put cones out there in the morning to try and communicate, try to make it clear that parking here: 'there's cones, I wonder why- oh, there's the little sign that says I can't park here unless I get a permit," Chief Kelsay said.

Chief Kelsay also said people should avoid parking east of Sunset St., unless on Marietta, since there is no parking allowed on the street. He also said people should come into the city from the west or the south, and avoid coming in past the stadium.

Chief Kelsay also reminded drivers to know what Melrose Ave. becomes one-way traffic in all lanes at about the third quarter of home games, meaning it only serves as a way to leave the area of the stadium.