New Bronx parking lots proving too unpopular

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Too many parking lots; not enough cars. (Graphic via Streetsblog)

As the plans for new Yankee Stadium took shape a few years ago, livable streets advocates and community activists bemoaned the seemingly ridiculous number of new parking spots included with the plan. While the new ballpark’s capacity would prove be around 7000 seats fewer than the old, the South Bronx would see over 2500 whose construction was to be subsidized through $237 million in tax-exempt bonds. To add insult to development injury, the company the city selected to build the parking lots had a history of defaulting on its bond payments.

It comes as no surprise then that Bronx Parking is in trouble. Because of the increased availability of public transit options and the smaller stadium capacity, fewer fans are driving to the games, and the company may soon default on its bond payments for the third time. According to Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News, revenue from parking was just $4.8 million through the first half of 2010, nearly half of Bronx Parking’s initial projections, and the company may have to run down its $4.5 million emergency fund, risking a potential default in the near future.

The company itself, says Gonzalez, blames three factors:

  • More than 800 fans are heading on game days to the Gateway Shopping Mall five blocks from the stadium, where they pay only $10 to park instead of the stiff $23 self-parking fee ($35 for valet service) at the stadium garages.
  • A new Metro North station has lured many fans (about 5,000 per game) to ride the train. [RAB note: Metro-North says it lures approximately 3200-3800 fans per game.]
  • The Yankees prepaid for only 190 parking spaces this year for their season ticket holders instead of the 900 spaces they prepaid last year.

Some unnamed city officials, meanwhile, aren’t surprised. “If these garages are only at 60% of capacity after a World Series victory, you know it can only get worse from here,” one said to the News. “There’s just too much unused parking around the stadium.”

For Yankee fans who drive, the news will only get worse next year. Bronx Parking — or the surviving entity — will have no other option but to raise rates to cover the lost revenue. Parking at the stadium could cost nearly $30 next year, and such a steep price could perpetuate a cycle where even fewer people drive. Yankee Stadium is, after all, one of the most transit accessible ballparks in the nation, and the South Bronx neighborhood has very low car ownership rates.

It’s clear that the city, at the behest of the Yankees, botched this parking deal. The team wanted more modern and convenient parking lots, and now a South Bronx area suffering from a dearth of green space and high asthma rates has lots of vacant space surrounding the stadium. This parking decision was not the city’s Economic Development Corporation’s and the Industrial Development Agency’s finest hours.

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  • Yank the Frank

    Watching the games at home in the a/c with HD is looking better and better.

    • Poopy Pants

      Agreed. I have NO desire to ever attend another game.
      A/C and HD >>>>>>>>>>>> humidity, dumb/ignorant people, crowded trains, over-priced everything, etc…

  • Paco Dooley

    Just a ludicrous situation – and raising prices will make matters worse, but from a public transit and emissions perspective, it’ll be good to see that push more people onto mass transit. I always drove to the stadium, but the day that the MetroNorth station opened I would never consider driving again (and indeed went to a game that very day).

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Exactly. The far better solution would be to lower prices at the garages and attempt to lure more people into parking in the garages instead of at the Gateway Center or on the street.

      Supply and demand. Demand is low and supply is fixed, so lower the price point to drive demand back up.

      • Benjamin Kabak

        Although I’d believe that, even with lower prices, people still wouldn’t drive to the stadium or the area in droves high enough to meet Bronx Parking’s projections. There’s just too much transit in the area.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Pretty much. They’re between a rock and a hard place. How much you pay for parking is only half the equation; the other half is the lack of demand for driving to the game anyway.

  • Mark

    For years I parked in one of the official Stadium lots, but no longer. It’s bad enough that the cost has become obscene (and about to get worse, apparently), but the biggest drawback is the hassle in getting out of the garages after the games. After a close game, where most fans stay until the end, it can easily take 30 minutes or more to get out of there. Last year, the geniuses who run the garages decided to require every single car to slip a paied ticket into a machine to raise a gate at the exit. As a result, only one car at a time can slowly roll through the exit, then the gate drops and the next car has to go through the process. The old way– which wasn’t great but was FAR better, had no gate and cars streamed through the exit as street and pedestran traffic would allow. Much faster.

    So do the math: Outrageous prices + aggravating exits = less desirable parking.

    • Neil

      Obviously the accounting department got involved and wanted to find some missing revenues.

  • LP

    Being ignorant as I am, I would assume lowering rates, while painful in the short-term, would increase usage. $23 is just not being competitive given the numerous other options. Driving to the Stadium was never fun, and I say that as someone who over the years has lived and driven in from New Haven, Mamaroneck, the East Village and Brooklyn. I’d suffer the lousy old Metro-North over driving (and the new station is a lousy experience post-game but it is cheap, fast, and pretty clean).

    Can’t the parking be re-evaluated and something else done with the underlying land to help out the bondholders and the neighborhood?

  • Jerome S

    Since when does Juan Gonzalez work for the Daily News?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


      I’ve actually met Juan Gonzalez (the reporter, not the slugger who didn’t deserve the 1996 MVP award).

      Real cool dude. He gets the official TSJC Seal of Approval.

      • dr mrs the yankee

        Hey TSJC, be fair. He didn’t deserve the 1998 MVP either.

  • Mike Nitabach

    (1) Demand is too low.

    (2) Raise prices.

    (3) ?

    (4) PROFIT!

  • Paco Dooley

    I also agree that lowering prices could actually work in their favor – but I imagine someone with a brain will actually look at cost-benefit curves and decide on price based on whatever gives the biggest net return. If it is get 3 people to park for $10mil a piece versus 9.5 million people parking for $3 each, they’d presumably take the 3 people.

    I suppose I would too – and save a lot of gas and congestion in the Bronx. The last time I drove there (not probably 15 years ago) I spent about 1.5 hours in traffic getting out of the mess that day and vowed never to do it again…

  • Sean

    What’s worse is when they double in the playoffs.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Looking at the map, I think Lot 16 has already be transformed into Mill Pond Park. There is no parking lot to the direct west of the Gateway Center Mall, it’s the new park with tennis courts.

    You can actually see it on GoogleMaps satellite images already, that park is open.

    I think Lots 5, 6, and 7 have also been turned into pocket parks as well.

    There’s still way too much parking, but that above graphic makes it seem a bit worse than it is. Ideally, Lot 10 should also become parkland, and Lots 13 A/B/C could be turned into something else as well. The problem with Lot 13 is, it’s basically in the middle of nowhere. There’s no good use for that land, other than as a parking lot, because it’s behind the highway.

    Perhaps it could be used as an extension of the Mill Pond Park, but i’m sure the Parks Department is too broke to build more parkland at the moment.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Oh, and Lot 15 is also a waste. It should be an extension of Mulally Park. Basically the only garages/lots that should still be used and not converted into something else are the new A/B/C Garages and Garage 3 and 8, and Lot 13.

      The more radical solution that members of the Community Board proposed: Ban all street parking for non-Bronx residents during the home games (with a few hours before or after).

      If you did lower prices for the garages but also gave the metermaids the right to ticket all commuters who took all the street parking spots, you could force the interlopers into the garages (to avoid hefty municipal fines) and preserve the parking spots for the people who actually live in the neighborhood (one of their perennial complaints about living near the stadium).

      It’s bold, but interesting.

    • massapequa parking


  • Ross in Jersey

    I hate this. I work in upstate Jersey, and I frequently drive to the stadium after work to watch the games. There is no train that I could take that would get me there on time. And so, here is the breakdown of my financials of my last trip:

    GWB toll: $8
    Parking: $23

    Tickets: $12
    Food (pizza + coke): $10

    Total spent driving to the stadium: $31
    Total spend inside the stadium: $22

    It’s stupid. Can you really park in the mall parking lot for 7pm games? It’s not closed then? I’ll seriously park there and walk further if it saves me $13!

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      FACT: The Target store in the Gateway Center Mall doesn’t close until 11pm. (I was actually there at that time the other day).

      I’d be shocked if you have a single issue parking in the mall garage for a night game, even for an 8:20pm playoff start.

      • Ross in Jersey

        I’m definitely going to try that then in a couple weeks when I go again. Thanks!

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          No problemo. Try not to leave your Jersey stink all over the place, buddy.

          • Ross in Jersey

            Bergen County is the 16th wealthiest county in the United States. I bring class, and hatred of catchers whos name start with ‘C’ and end in ‘ervelli’.

            • Ross in Jersey

              (That said, if anyone knows of a cheap 1 bedroom apartment for sale in the Bronx, I’m listening!)

        • Yank the Frank

          Make sure you have a few $5 bills. I went to a game over the July 4th weekend, parked in the Gateway Center, could not pay up front and had to pay when I left through a machine that would only accept $5 bills. That day due to the holiday they were charging $20 to park. It was a scramble to come up with the right currency.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Oh, and:

      I see, I see… your future! It’s… a cab ride!
      Move out of the sticks, fellas.


    • ZZ

      Save some more money by bringing water with you instead of buying a coke.

      • Ross in Jersey

        They don’t let you bring water bottles into the stadium. Last time I tried they told me to drink it, throw it out, or turn around.

        • ZZ

          It is stadium policy to allow food, water bottles, or juice boxes into the stadium. If someone tells you otherwise ask to speak to their manager.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Phil Weston: You’re my assistant. You’re supposed to back me up and go get me juiceboxes whenever I want. Now go get me a juicebox!
            Mike Ditka: DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU’RE TALKING TO?
            Phil Weston: I’m talkin’ to the juicebox guy!
            Mike Ditka: YOU’RE CRAZY!
            Phil Weston: I’m not crazy, I’m just thirsty!
            Mike Ditka: OH, YOU GO TO HELL!

        • dr mrs the yankee

          If your drink is sealed you can bring it in. In the official guide they do say it has to be sealed (presumably so people can’t sneak in mixed drinks), and not in a glass container.

          I go to ~35 games a year and bring a bottled drink, a sandwich or something else to eat and a snack of some type to almost all of them.

        • CBean

          They don’t let you bring anything open to the stadium. If your water bottle is sealed they will let you bring it in.

    • Mike Nitabach

      I just walked past the mall parking structure the other day, and I’m 99% certain I saw an “Open 24 Hours” sign. Be warned, however, that they definitely had higher listed prices for Red Sox, Mets, and other “special” games, including the playoffs.

  • massapequa parking

    Ah, the good old days. I used to arrive early and park under the Degan . . . for FREE. And walk quickly back to the car for a traffic-free ride south back to the Degan. That was then.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


  • Matt Imbrogno

    I still park because I a) don’t have to adhere to the train schedules and b) it’s just about the same price for a round trip ticket anyway.

  • http://deleted Richard Deegan

    Is the “Pit” (Sheridan & 156th) still a parking lot? Used to be able to handle cases all day in FC/CC and then catch a night game, at a total parking cost of $4 + $2 tip for the night guy in the parking lot. Seems like a shorter walk than to Gateway (plus 161st was brightly lit, thanks to night court, diners, etc.).

  • Kit

    And this is when living within walking distance of the stadium comes in handy. That being said, the map of parking lots looks like overkill, especially when Gateway’s parking lots are ghost towns.

  • Tom Zig

    I don’t like to drive to games because I like to imbibe a few coldies at the games. Plus the whole walking to and from the metronorth station is a pretty cool experience. It’s even better after a big win.