Bronx Parking default could spike stadium parking prices

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For the past few years, the news from the Bronx concerning parking rates has not been good for Yankee fans who drive to games. Despite opposition from neighborhood groups and urban planning advocates, the city’s Economic Development Corporation opted to build 9,000 parking spots around the nation’s most transit-accessible baseball stadium. With high vacancy rates, the company operating the parking lots cannot pay back money on its tax-exempt bonds and owes the city $25 million in back taxes. Without some relief, stadium-goers could pay even more in parking, and an eventual default seems likely.

When last we checked in on this story in March of 2011, the Bronx Parking Development Company had just announced a $35-per-car rate for 2011. While that rate is due to remain the same this year, it is likely to jump to $42 next year and $55 the year after, if the company is still in business. Juan Gonzalez isn’t so sure that will happen. He writes:

Bronx Parking Development Company LLC is running perilously low on cash reserves and faces a looming default by the end of the year, according to a report filed Friday by a trustee for the firm’s bondholders. Time is running out, in other words, to avoid one of the biggest failures in decades of bonds issued by a New York City agency.

The simple fact is that Bloomberg and his aides made a costly mistake when they succumbed back in 2005 to the Yankees’ demand for a 9,000-space garage system. It was all part of the deal for the team to build a new stadium in the Bronx. But Yankees fans have shunned the garages, where gameday self-parking rates soared last year to $35 — up from $23 previously and more than double the original $14 charge. Valet parking now goes for $48.

So many fans are staying away, in part due to the lure of cheaper local competition, that Bronx Parking Development now projects only 3,500 paying customers per game for the upcoming season. And that occupancy rate — a measly 38% — will exist only on days when the Bronx Bombers take the field. For the rest of the year, the garages will remain a ghost town, since a mere 70 South Bronx residents currently park there each day.

To make matters worse, the company owes $25 million in taxes as well and does not believe revenue from the looming baseball season will be sufficient to cover expenses, let alone bond payments and tax bills. The city agencies responsible for issuing the bonds has said it will not provide financial cover, and a plan to develop a hotel on the site of some of the unused parking lots went nowhere when potential bidders asked for significant city subsidies. South Bronx residents who long opposed the garages are hoping that the city will simply knock them down and build affordable housing instead. Right now, that’s besides the point.

As the Yanks gear up for another season, those coming to the game are wondering what this news means for them. While a majority of fans take the city’s buses or subway or Metro-North to the stadium, some are not near enough to transit to do so. Many of those who eschewed $35-per-car parking for on-street space or a spot at the nearby Gateway Center lots.

It is likely then that prices will continue to climb, and spaces will go unused. If Bronx Parking goes belly up, the city will try to find another operator, but the economics of the spaces will remain the same. There are, simply put, too many parking spots around Yankee Stadium. The city may have to admit defeat and return the new empty lots to better uses. No matter what though, the fans who drive will be paying for this costly mistake for years to come.

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  • Plank

    How many tax dollars went to this? How much will the city lose on this fiasco?

    I wish there were laws barring city councils from having land developers on them. They are the only people who seem to run for office, and they are universal in their pursuit of tax dollars pumped in to private development.

  • Darren

    There are too many parking spots so prices are going to go up.

    WTF?

    Only in the Yankees universe 2012, kids, only in the Yankees universe 2012.

    /Cindy Adams’d

    • Ed

      The new stadium is far more accessible by mass transit than the old one was. You’ve got the Metro North coming right to the stadium. NJ Transit also has massively increased service since the plans for the new stadium were drawn up.

      The problem isn’t really the price of parking. Mass transit is now an option for far more people than it used to be. Tons of people from Westchester and New Jersey used to drive because it was the only reasonable way to get to the stadium. Now that they have a choice, they don’t want to drive in the city. If parking was free, most of these people would still take the trains instead of driving.

      The people left parking in the garage are the ones that don’t have a good alternative. The price increase is about getting as much money as they can out of them.

      • Darren

        No way dude.

        Plenty more people would drive if it was $10 to park.

        Plenty of more people who drive and park on the street would park in a lot if it was reaosnable – i.e., $10.

  • Ed

    It’s kinda crazy to see how much extra parking there is. I remember my dad driving around hunting for parking in the early 90s, even though the stadium wouldn’t even be half full. In the last years of the old stadium, I heard plenty of horror stories from people who would drive there and couldn’t find parking. The worst of them involved arriving right around the first pitch but not finding a space until the 3rd or 4th inning.

  • CMP

    Just another reason to watch the game in HD on my 58 inch TV in the comfort of my own home.

    • Monterowasdinero

      Or take a road trip for an away series. 3 games in another town-probably cheaper than 3 games at YS with parking!

  • http://twitter.com/czm26 Craig

    If I’m not mistaken, parking was $45 for the ALDS. I dont mind the subway, but whenever I take my younger sister- we drive up as it’s the “safer” route, at least in her mind. Between the parking fare or the train/subway fare- Its about the same if you take te train outta Hamilton, NJ.

    • Mickey S

      I remember going back to my hotel from an April or May Red Sox/Yankees game on the subway and we’re outnumbered 2 to 1 by unruly Boston fans who proceeded to beat the snot outta a drunk Yankee fan. He totally deserved it, or rather his girlfriend, who talked all the trash did, but I respect those Boston fans for taking out their anger on the boyfriend and not her.

      • JCK

        You’re a peach.

  • Baseball Guy

    From the article:

    “So many fans are staying away, in part due to the lure of cheaper local competition.”

    Where is the cheaper local competition for parking?

    I drive in from NJ…

    • Jimmy

      There are several local garages easily researchable through the web.

    • Rich7041

      Check out the apartment lots along Jerome Ave or River Ave. I can usually park there (2 blocks from stadium) for $20. I was always reluctant to do this in the past, but the savings was too hard to resist and I haven’t had a problem in the 2 years I’ve been doing it.

    • nsalem

      Shopping center across from the DA’s office other side of the Concourse on 161st is 25.00. last year they also sold coupons for 10 times for 150.00 paid up front. About a quarter mile walk to the stadium and not so much traffic congestion on the way out.

  • Regis

    I drive in for games from eastern Long Island. I’ve been parking in the same garage for 3 years – $25.

    • TheMissile

      Same here. I drive to 3-5 games a year from Northeast PA. Having a friend with me to split the cost in half is a good thing, but we also found a garage for $25. About 3 or 4 blocks south of the stadium on the corner of 161st St. and what ever else the street is (Sherman St. would be my first guess).

  • Jimmy

    Ben,

    Good article, Ben. But you’re missing the major motivation to drive, and I’ll speak from a central=-NJ perspective. NJ Transit to the subway is plenty safe and pretty convenient. But if you are bringing your family, say of 4, it is costing you ~$19 per head round trip from central Jersey (ok $9 per head for kids under 12 and free under 5, but that’s not my case). Add to that the subway fare both ways, and you are shelling out $90+ to go to the stadium. The train’s convenience is a wash compared to driving since you need to wait for the hourly trains from the RV line. Just not worth it, and I love taking the train in.

  • Brian in NH

    never would have though i’d see a story about too much available parking in new york city. also…the rules of supply and demand don’t seem to add up here.

  • the Other Steve S.

    Are there no schools in NY that teach economics? Supply/Demand? Ever heard of it?

  • http://yankeeanalysts.com Matt Imbrogno

    From here in CT, if I’m going solo or with one person, the train will be more cost effective. But, if I’m going with two other people, driving will be cheaper per person.

  • Chris

    I will never park in one of those lots ever again. I went to agame last year that was rained out. After we paid the guy told us that the game was rained out and we had to trun around and leave. I never got out of my car. They took my money and kicked me out. I called the police on them and said I wanted a refund because I never used the service of “parking”. Of course they said I would have to sue and forget that. Those parking lots are the biggest rip off in the world. I have given up on tailgating before red sox games but hey, if it means those dam lots go bankrupt then its fine by me!

  • Peter North

    The lots are empty is because of the increased price, obviously. The increase in supply should’ve driven parking prices DOWN, not up. If they aren’t being used, they should lower the price to the point people will actually be willing to pay. Raising the price will just lower the number of customers further. Stop using Obamanomics and apply real economics/logic. Next step: bailout?

    • Plank

      I was going to respond with a real answer until I saw Obamanomics and realized you are joking.

    • Chris

      The will give the Bronx residents free parking to fill the spaces. Then when they realize most of the people who they gave spaces to don’t have cars the government will give them one. They will be Volts, and thus many will be dead due to the lack of a charging station in a few days. Thousands of Volts will be left around the city to only be towed and their owners fined for parking in areas not designated so. The costs for the residents will be so high that they can’t afford the tickets, causing them to miss work for court dates. The government will step in and create an urban charging station imitative in the Bronx by installing hundreds of charging stations. The residents will be happy for a short while until those who were not given cars realize that their tax dollars are paying for others. They get angry and revolt, damaging many stations. The government pays for the repairs and creates an electric car in urban environments program, giving very cheap loans for cars to those who otherwise would not have one. Inevitably everyone defaults on the loans because the government never bothered to see if they could even afford a new car and totally over looked the parking issues which have grown since everyone in the Bronx is driving a new car…Many default because of “predatory” car loans and the unforeseen costs of car ownership such as insurance, vehicle maintenance and spinning rims. The government is made fun of for not taking the fact that 70 percent of people in the Bronx use mass transit and don’t need cars anyway. Eventually the parking garage becomes a massive political football that is talked about in every NY State election for the next 40 years. The garage falls into disrepair to the point where it is knocked down in favor of affordable housing.

      • TanyonS

        You forgot the part where Obama tells us that things would have been worse without the ‘free parking’.

      • Peter North

        Brilliant.