Rock Hill officials have taken steps to increase safety at the Manchester Meadows soccer complex year-round while also preparing for the 2012 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.
In a recent meeting of the City Council, the traffic commission recommended eliminating parking along John Ross Parkway, which runs next to the complex and the Manchester Village shopping center.
"With the excitement that Manchester has generated, there's a lot of events going on out there," said Mark Sexton, tourism director for the city's Parks, Recreation and Tourism department. "That road is heavily traveled, especially when tournaments are going on and on weekends. It didn't warrant the best situation for people parking on that road."
When motorists parked along John Ross Parkway, at least one lane was blocked, he explained, and officials worried about people getting hurt while trying to cross the road.
At least 12 events each year attract crowds to the complex, Sexton said. Soccer event organizers have been asked to spread the games out so parking is readily available. They also inform local businesses when events are coming up.
The council voted unanimously to ban parking on the roadway throughout the year.
"There's nothing we could do as far as enforcement," he said. "Now with no parking, we can enforce it through ticketing or towing. Of course, we will continue to be customer-friendly by letting people know."
Officials have not yet decided whether they will put up "No Parking" signs or paint the curb to signify no parking.
The measure will come in handy during the 2012 national youth soccer championships scheduled for July 24-29.
The U.S. Youth Soccer Association announced in September it had chosen Rock Hill and the 70-acre Manchester Meadows for its national championship site.
Completed in 2006, Manchester Meadows has eight soccer fields, the quality of which, association committee chairman Jim Martella said, is "the highest." The fields are the main reason why Rock Hill beat out facilities in the Boston suburbs and Kansas City for the championships.
Sexton said they are working to secure even more parking to add to the complex's roughly 650 spaces. So far, they have secured parking at York Technical College's Baxter Hood Center, and the Rock Hill Galleria has designated 700 spots. First Baptist Church, located across Dave Lyle Boulevard from the soccer complex, is offering parking spaces.
Organizers plan to bus people from satellite parking locations to the complex for the championships.
City officials have formed a local organizing committee and a project team for the championships, said John Taylor, operations supervisor for the PRT department.
"The John Ross was only part of it," he said. "That was more for the all-year events, but that will help us during the soccer event."
The city is looking for sponsors for the championship while making other plans to accommodate parking needs. As the event approaches, the city will "spruce up the complex," although Taylor said they maintain it all the time.
"We are working on making sure we put our best foot forward," Taylor said, "and that the tournament is run in a matter that makes all South Carolinians proud."