U-M game day parking at Pioneer: Where does all that money go?

Parking at Pioneer High School provides easy access to the game and an impressive source of revenue for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
Parking at Pioneer High School provides easy access to the game and an impressive source of revenue for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

By Tara Cavanaugh

It’s a tradition that’s 30 or 40 years old or maybe even older: the night before a University of Michigan football game, dozens of RV’s flock to the Pioneer High School parking lot. And on game day itself, more cars, trucks and RV’s join them to tailgate.

It can be an expensive tradition, costing up to $250 for each RV. Overall, fans spend around $1 million during U-M’s football season to tailgate at Pioneer High School. So where does that money go?

Into the district’s general fund, said Tim Gruszczynski, the district’s supervisor of environmental services and physical properties. The general fund, which is funded by state and local taxes, supports the majority of district operations. The general fund for the 2013-2014 school year is $183 million.

During the 2012-2013 school year, the district took in $1.18 million from parking fees (which also includes parking fees for U-M basketball games), said Nancy Hoover, AAPS director of finance.

The money taken in from parking fees “is a significant amount of money, especially when added up over the years,” Hoover said. “And it’s a source of revenue that’s unique to Ann Arbor.”

The district relies on partnerships to make game days go smoothly at Pioneer. It leases the front corner to U-M, which uses it for marketing purposes and a big TV screen. It pays two or three Ann Arbor Police Department officers to patrol the area for the day. And it works with a separate contractor, Michigan Event Parking, that oversees the selling of access tickets beforehand, managing the space during the day, and cleaning up afterward.

The district pays the contractor 10.9 percent of the overall game day parking fees for cleanup.

Those in RV’s pay $250 and can come as early as the end of a Pioneer football game on a Friday night, and they can stay until noon on Sunday. Cars and trucks pay $50 for game day parking. Preferred parking spots, which are close to the stadium and accessible even after the game starts, are available for $80.

More information about game day parking at Pioneer is available on michiganeventparking.com.


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  1. Ed, state law prohibits alcohol on public school property. The district hires two or three Ann Arbor police officers specifically for the Pioneer parking area during each game day.

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