Nope, don’t agree


Nope, don’t agree

I commented below that Sarasota, FL, was bundling the cost of parking in with the ticket price to events in their concert hall. I said that this was not the way to go — that it was simply a way to raise prices and those who didn’t drive got screwed.  Here’s an alternate view:


As is usually the case, there is an alternate view, which I’m sure
you will understand in my following explanation.I am totally
unfamiliar with the parking operation in Sarasota as to whether they
have a parking structure or surface lots or a combination of the two
but here we go!

Having operated the parking for a 21,000 seat amphitheater and
10,000 seat arena, my partner and myself became very annal about
tracking the average number of people per car that attended both
venues. This is quite simply done by dividing the number of cars parked
by the total attendence for that event. By making this our common
denominator we were able to establish proper staffing levels for each
event based on number of tickets sold for the event. Long story short,
we found that at both venues we would average 2.92 people per car per

For a sell out show at the amphitheater (approximately 7000 cars
parking) we would need 45 cashiers to collect the $8.00 parking fee. On
average, each tranaction takes 20 seconds to complete thus causing a
fairly significant back-up of vehicles since most people arrive between
30 and 45 minutes prior to show time.

That being said, here is the reasoning behind adding the charge of parking to the ticket price.

1.) Doing so helps minimize traffic back-ups, complaints and gets
people into the venue where they can be spending $8-$10 for a beer etc.

2.) Eliminates cashiers and payroll related costs, banking operations and the possibility of theft.

Now I don’t know how they came up with the $2.00 per ticket cost or
how much they were charging before, but in the end most people are much
happier to have the charges all bundled into one price.

Is it always equitable? Probably not in all cases, however if those
that run the facility did their simple math and due diligence up front,
it should all even out for them in the end from a gross revenue

Now the real question in this whole process is this. Were they smart
enough to set up a separate account for the parking revenue to pay for maintena, repairs and equipment or was it lumped in general revenue
like a city normally would do?

Don Forrester

Thoughtful, experienced, but I think wrong. Bundling parking costs in with other costs simply makes it "seem" that parking is free.  That begins to cause all the problems we see with congestion, cruising, folks complaining that there isn’t enough parking available. This is as "anti-Shoupista" as one can get.

People are happier because they don’t realize the parking cost is included in the ticket price. Its like VAT in Europe — The sales tax is added in not as a separate line. That’s why we pay 6-8% sales tax and they pay nearly 20%

The point is not how much people are willing to pay for beer, its that some people pay more to park than others. In Don’s example above, a "typical" car of course isn’t reality. Its either one, two, three, four, five, or six. Assuming its two or four (about where it would fall) The folks in the car with four people would pay about $10.80 to park but those with two would pay about $5.40. Are we certain that the people in the four person car would feel good about not waiting in line to pay in entry if they knew were charged twice as much as the car behind.

If you are truly "green" it should be exactly the opposite — that is, the more people in the car, the lower the cost.

The solution to all this, is of course, to sell parking permits (one time, season pass) to people separately from the tickets. The money is collected up front, the permit is collected or checked on entry, that that’s it. If you don’t buy your parking permit with your ticket you are surcharged a lot because of all the trouble you caused by paying for parking at the event.  If you pay with your ticket, you are charged $8. If you pay on the day of the event, you pay $20 and have to go through special lines that take hours to get the money collected.

Just my humble opinion. After all, everyone has one



Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. While I totally gree with your comments about how to charge for parking at special events, I disagree that your opinions are humble!!

  2. While I totally gree with your comments about how to charge for parking at special events, I disagree that your opinions are humble!!

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