Valet parking for UGA game days comes to Athens

Valet parking for UGA game days comes to Athens

Sunshine State resident JJ ​​Paulsen says he grew up in a Florida Gator family and made many trips to Gainesville and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. And there’s one aspect of his visits to the Gators over the years that he’s never forgotten.

“Many of my fondest childhood memories come from those games, and the only negative experience was trying to find a parking space when we arrived,” said the 20-year-old Orlando native, who is now studying economics in Florida. “In fact, we had a running joke in the family: How long will it take us to find a parking space this time?”

Paulsen, who has also sold parking at Florida football games, said he and his business partner Dustin Karp (a former Florida student) decided there had to be a better way to buy and sell parking, so they created Perch, a service designed to make the process easier for everyone involved. In its first year of operation, Perch helped more than 2,000 college football fans find parking for Florida home games.

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Now Paulsen and Karp are bringing Perch to Athens.

“Nobody goes anywhere to park; they go there to watch the football game,” Paulsen said. “Parking is really a commodity that a lot of people don’t think about, but it’s the first and last impression for fans who go to games. When you go to a game, the first thing you do is park your car, and the last thing you do is pull it out and drive away.”

“Our goal is to make this process as easy as possible and to leave a positive first and last impression with the fans who come to the games so that they come back year after year.”

Perch has already reached an agreement with a property near Sanford Stadium, and Paulsen said he and Karp are in the process of reaching out to other property owners to set up a digital marketplace to make the gameday experience a little less stressful for buyers and sellers who haven’t yet reserved seats.

“We’ve come together to develop this platform that allows businesses, homes, churches, elementary schools – basically anyone who sells parking on game days – to list those spots on our platform so fans coming to the games can reserve a spot,” Paulsen said.

Paulsen added that property owners set their own prices for their pitches and said Perch will waive fees during its inaugural season in Athens to increase inventory and goodwill.

“Next season, we’re running a promotion where all new onboarding chargers will be exempt from the transaction fee for the first year. This is our way of encouraging more people to give our platform a chance and show them how easy it can make their lives,” he said.

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“This platform was created by football fans for football fans. We are more focused on growing the inventory and helping as many property owners and football fans as possible.”

Paulsen also hopes to expand beyond Gainesville and Athens and has eyed Florida State, Alabama, Virginia and Tennessee as possible Perch locations. When asked how his personal gaming experience in Gainesville will evolve this fall, Paulsen said he and Karp will prioritize being available to property owners and customers.

“The platform is built to be completely sustainable. Everyone who is listed with us gets their own custom dashboard with pricing and reservations,” he said. “They don’t need us to do anything directly – we give as much power as possible to the property owners, but we handle customer support. So when customers reach out to us with issues or questions, I make sure I’m available to answer and assist the property owner.”

It is likely that the famous rivalry will move to other venues in the next few years, possibly even featuring a home-and-away game, as EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville is undergoing renovations that are expected to result in the facility’s closure for the 2026 and 2027 Georgia-Florida games.

If that happens, Paulsen said, Perch will welcome Bulldog fans to Gainesville with open arms.

“Last year we helped quite a few away fans find parking,” he said. “We definitely don’t discriminate against anyone just because we’re Gator fans. When the Bulldogs come to Gainesville, we’ll definitely have a parking spot for them.”

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