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Springfield Cardinals balk at parking fee hike

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Parking at Hammons Field for a Springfield Cardinals game is getting more expensive – by nearly triple the rate a year ago.

The minor league organization announced this month that the owner and manager of a surface lot and parking garage south of the stadium increased parking fees for the second time this year to $20 a vehicle. The latest move was effective July 12.

Cardinals officials, and their fans, are not happy.

“It’s been our No. 1 complaint, especially for those who are disabled and can’t walk as far,” said Dan Reiter, vice president and general manager of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals. “I feel like that’s the group this has been most unfortunate for.”

The surface parking lot, which holds 470 cars, is located south of the stadium between Trafficway Street and St. Louis Street. The Jordan Valley Car Park garage is near the Expo Center and holds 971 cars. The lots are managed by Plaza Realty & Management Services and owned by New York-based JD Holdings LLC.

Plaza Realty & Management President John Schulte confirmed the price increase but declined to comment further. Officials with JD Holdings did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

In 2018, JD Holdings took control of late hotelier John Q. Hammons’ assets through bankruptcy proceedings for roughly $1 billion, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

This isn’t the first time the parking fee has been increased for the two lots. In July 2018, parking was only $7, Reiter said, and it was raised the next month to $10. In April, the parking fee jumped to $14 on opening day.

Reiter said neither he nor his staff were made aware of the price increase or given information about the days and hours in which the fees would take place.

The Springfield Cardinals requested to lease 400 parking spaces in the parking lot between Trafficway and St. Louis Street before the 2019 season began. Reiter said JD Holdings officials responded to the request and wanted $15 per parking space, guaranteed for all 70 home games, which totals $420,000 for the season. Reiter and company declined the offer.

With the most recent increase to $20 per space, the surface parking lot fees would generate around $658,000 at capacity for all 70 games at Hammons Field. The parking garage at capacity fees would total over $1.3 million during the season, bringing the combined total to around $2 million.

The ballclub does not own or manage any parking lots, but Reiter said the organization is looking into all of its options, including possibly acquiring a space for parking.

He’s also tried to find companies to help run a shuttle service for fans.

Other nearby parking includes free spots at Ozarks Technical Community College; $10 parking at the National Avenue and St. Louis Street Price Cutter store, which goes to local charities; and $5 parking at Jordan Valley Ice Park. Springfield Cardinals this year also partnered with CarGo, a ridesharing service. that is offening a first-time rider discount.

The Creamery Arts Center, located across John Q. Hammons Parkway from the ballpark, has around two dozen parking spaces available to baseball fans for $7 apiece, said Avery Parrish, corporate art coordinator with the Springfield Regional Arts Council. Fans also can park at Ebbets Field with proof of purchase from the restaurant. Depending on the hotel’s availability, free surface lot parking is sometimes available at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, also owned by JD Holdings.

Last year, average home game attendance was roughly 4,900, said Matt Turer, public relations coordinator for the Springfield Cardinals. This was the highest recording year since 2014, when over 5,100 people on average attended the home games. Annually, the games draw well over 300,000 people to the area.

Individual tickets to a Springfield Cardinals game vary from $8, for lawn seating, to $29, for The Nest and Expedia Redbird Roost, which include a ballpark food buffet. The team also offers a membership program, which replaced season tickets this year.

Reiter said the organization will be able to analyze the impact on attendance at the end of the season. He does think there will be some impact.

“We’re extremely frustrated. We think we’ve had a great relationship with the company, and I think it’s disappointing that Plaza Realty and JD Holdings are doing this to fans,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right that they’re making them pay more for parking than the cost of tickets.”

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