Why don’t they just call it what it is….


Why don’t they just call it what it is….

City of Sarasota, FL, has decided to raise the prices at its local civic center theater by charging a "parking fee" on each ticket. They are surcharging $2 a ducat. Let us see just how unfair that is.  I decide to go to the theater with my family of six to see the Nutcracker this Christmas Season. I pay a "parking fee" of $12. 

However my friend Charlie who hates the classics but loves the Pink Martini, and couldn’t get a date if his life depended on it, goes to the theater stag and pays a "parking fee" of $2. Note that we both parked one car for the same amount of time.

My"green" cousin who believes that bean sprouts are roast beef and hasn’t sat foot in a car for 10 years slaps on her Birkenstocks and hoofs it to the Ravi Shankar concert and pays the two bucks to park, probably under protest after picketing for an hour and burning her undergarment (hasn’t worn a bra in recent history.)

So the city is going to collect a quarter of a million bucks next year under false pretenses. If they are going to charge an additional $2 for a parking fee per ticket, why shouldn’t everyone drive themselves. My wife could drive, the teenager (if I had one) could drive, and we could feel warm a cuddly taking up three spaces in stead of one.

This, of course, is a way to mask a fee increase. There is probably some kind of codicil in the deed to the property at the theater that went into effect when old Mrs. so in so donated the land that said they couldn’t raise the fees on tickets more than a certain amount per year and I’m sure they are maxing out on that.

So they get around it by calling it a "parking fee."  Its not a parking fee, its a raise in prices, since they are charging everyone the fee, whether they drive or not. And get this justification:

"It’s not unusual for entertainment venues and events to have paid
parking," Bartolotta stated in the release. "There’s paid parking at Ed
Smith Stadium and Disney. Why should this be any different? With this
parking fee and other user charges, we hope to eliminate the Van
Wezel’s deficit over a three year period."

Right. Mickey charges me $10 to park. They collect the money as I enter the garage. Its the same whether I’m alone or have 12 screaming kids in the car. $10 bucks to park. Makes perfect sense to me.

These kind of fee increases, masked as parking charges, frankly give our industry a bad name. I’m not sure what we can do about it, but if any of you have an idea, let me know.

This just pisses me off…


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. John,
    As is usually the case, there is an alternate view, which I’m sure you will understand in my following explaination.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 amphitheatre 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 deviding 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 event.
    For a sell out show at the amphitheatre (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 showtime.
    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 standpoint.
    Now the real question in this whole process is this. Were they smart enough to set up a seperate account for the parking revenue to pay for maintence, repairs and equipment or was it lumped in general revenue like a city normally would do?

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