Summer time is travel time. For many it means vacations, festivals, concerts, baseball games and all sorts of other things where lots of people gather in one place. And sometimes it feels like no matter what kind of event you go to, you have to pay to park AND to get in to the event. Why don’t they just include the price to park in the event ticket?
From the consumer’s point of view, there’s no reason not to roll in the price of parking. If a concert ticket is $30, and parking is $10, why not just charge $40? Most people are aware they will have to park and that it will cost money, but sometimes it’s considerably more than one would expect. This leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths because it was an expense they didn’t really budget for. The customer is a lot more likely to feel satisfied paying just $40 for a ticket that includes parking than $30+$10 to park, even though the told expense is the same.
There are two primary reasons the cost of parking isn’t included with a ticket. The first is easily understood: the venue doesn’t own the parking lot. There are many places the host events but don’t have much, if any, parking spaces. This is especially true for sports arenas with urban locations. They may have enough parking for employees and that’s about it. They venue is surrounded by privately owned parking lots and parking decks. While they could set up a parking contract with some of the surrounding spaces, it’s going to be too much trouble for both parties. By allowing the surrounding lots and decks do their own thing they can charge what they want and the free market can decide price. That is not the case with a contracting system locked into the price of the ticket. The venue will also not have to keep someone on payroll to maintain those relationships.
So simplicity is one reason why they don’t. But sometimes venues do own their spaces, at least some spaces. They could offer parking for those rolled into a ticket price right? They could, but they won’t. By charging for parking separately, venues encourage people to travel in groups. Why do they do that? Because the venue can hold a lot more people than the surrounding parking lots can. Take a look at the fairly new Cowboys Stadium. It’s a billion dollar facility and can hold just a bit over 100,000 people. But the stadium only has about 12,000 parking spaces. There are an additional 12,000 in surrounding areas, but that still means the average carload needs to be 4 people deep in order for there to be enough spaces for an event.
The carpool situation is the primary reason behind the price to pay for parking. If it were free everyone would drive themselves. And there wouldn’t be enough spaces. Not only that, but if you’ve ever tried to leave an NFL game the traffic is a mess. Try quadrupling that with free parking. Making matters would be the cost to construct all the additional parking if there were 100,000 spaces. The cost doesn’t cover the benefits.
There’s almost always a rational explanation for why something is the way it is. While at first it seems like it would be easier just to roll the cost of parking into an event ticket, it’s actually considerably more difficult to coordinate and inefficient in the long run. Anyway, half of the fun of events is going with a group of people, so hop in the van and split the parking.