The biggest point of concern with the new stadium proposed by the Tampa Bay Rays (outside of financing) is the parking, or lack there of, along the St. Pete Waterfront. Carlos Moncada of the Herald-Tribune tries to give his readers a glimpse of the problem by comparing the parking situation for a typical Rays game with the parking situation seen in downtown St. Pete during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
For a peek at how a waterfront Rays stadium might steer summer traffic and parking downtown, plan to attend the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in April…Tens of thousands of people converge on the same spot at the same time…For one weekend, downtown becomes an array of barricaded streets, uniformed police directing traffic and electronic message boards to accommodate more than 40,000 race-day spectators. That compares to 34,000 people if a new, open-air Rays stadium fills up.
There is only one problem with this comparison…The Tampa Bay Rays will play more than one home game over the course of a single season. In fact, the Rays will play at least 81 home games in any given season. Carlos Moncada would like you to think that the parking situation with the Rays home games would be 81 times worse than that of the Grand Prix. In actuality, the problem will be much less because the Rays will play 81 home games.
When confronted with a single-day event such as the Grand Prix, the city of St. Pete and the local businesses make the necessary adjustments to accommodate the fans for that one day. For something that will become a regular feature of the downtown area, changes will be made. Permanent changes. While we can only speculate what those changes will be, we can assume that the city will make structural as well as public transportation changes. We assume that local landowners and businessmen will see the financial benefit to building parking garages and offering other services in the downtown area to accommodate Rays fans. A financial windfall that would not have been realized if the only big downtown event was the Grand Prix occurring on one day a year.
In fact, the new stadium along the St. Pete waterfront will be home to much more than the 81 scheduled home game of the Tampa Bay Rays. The ballpark is also likely to be home to other events such as concerts and other sporting events.
There may be problems with the new stadium proposal, but a lack of parking is not one. Necessity is the mother of invention. If there is a niche that needs to be filled…In this case parking for events at the new stadium…You can be sure that there will be people that will step in to fill that niche, with their eye on the prize. And of course, by “prize” we really mean “profit”.
Parking for proposed Rays stadium an issue [Herald-Tribune]