City bites T-Wolves parkers, eases up on arts fans

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November 15, 2004 // UPDATED 4:40 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

The city is raising parking rates for Timberwolves games and other Target Center events from $7 to $9 per event, one of several rate hikes and cuts in the city ramp system. The new rate went into effect Oct. 1.

The rate increase does not generate new revenue, but it will expedite people leaving the Third Avenue Distributor (TAD) ramps, an Oct. 26 Public Works staff memo said. The ramps, which border I-394 in Downtown, will raise the exit gates after events so pre-paying T-wolves fans can leave more quickly.

However, some hourly parkers will be able to leave without paying.

The city estimates the $2 event parking fee increase will offset any losses. The Timberwolves, Target Center "and the surrounding community" requested the gate-raising policy, the memo said.

Meanwhile, fans of the Twins and Vikings will keep paying less at a city ramp by the Metrodome.

According to an Oct. 26 staff memo, demand at the new Downtown East (Metrodome) Ramp, 425 Park Ave., has been "disappointing."

The city originally charged $30 to park for Vikings games in the 2003 season. Even though the ramp is literally across the street from the Dome, only 10 customers parked there for 2003's first game, causing the city to lower the rate to $20.

That change brought modest success. During a recent Vikings game, the 450-car ramp had 155 customers.

One reason the ramp struggles is that the city closes 5th Street during Vikings games, redirecting traffic. Further, the memo stated, "traffic coming into town on Park Avenue is almost nonexistent prior to the games. Public Works is working on several ways to improve this situation."

The four city ramps along 5th Avenue South had 1,446 cars during the Sept. 26 Vikings game, about 36 percent of capacity. (Advertising in the Star Tribune for multigame parking packages proved ineffective.)

Twins fans seem no more inclined to use the new Metrodome ramp.

Public Works began by charging $10 to park during baseball games in 2003, but "it was evident after the first 10 games that people were not finding the ramp, and when they did, they did not want to pay the $10 rate."

The city lowered the rate to $5 in mid-2003 and got "a small number of customers." Use grew to 250 cars a game this summer, 55 percent of capacity. As the Twins closed out their division-championship season the ramp had 375 vehicles a game and filled to capacity for the Twins' two playoff games.

Event rates will be increased from $7 to $8 at the Convention Center ramps, at Orchestra Hall, 1111 Marquette Ave. and at the Plaza Municipal Ramp, 117 S. 12th St.

Public Works will also keep lower parking rates for the Twins and Vikings games.

Event parking at the city's Walker Art Center ramp dropped from $8 to $5.

Mike Sachi, the city's director of parking services, said shortly after the Walker opened, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board lowered the rate on its nearby Parade Stadium surface lot from $7 to $5, cutting into the city revenue. The city lowered its rate to match the Park Board's rate.

The city is also adjusting hourly and monthly ramp rates, responding to market changes.

Ramps along 5th Avenue have experienced demand declines. The Government Center Ramp has lost as much as 40 percent of its monthly and transient business since 1998-99

Public Works attributes falling ramp use to office vacancies, economic downturns and the extended construction of light-rail transit.

The city dropped the Government Center Ramp's monthly rate $3 ($172.50 to $169.50) and the monthly reserved rate by $5 ($190 to $185). It also dropped the one-hour short-term parking rate 50 cents from $2.50 to $2.

Downtown's southwest corner has shown the greatest parking demand growth. The LaSalle Ramp, 915 LaSalle Ave., saw the largest hikes, with monthly parking increasing from $200 to $240 and the hourly rates increasing by $1 (for instance, a one-hour park now costs $4 instead of $3 and parking for 7-8 hours costs $12 instead of $11.)

Other rate adjustments include:

- Monthly carpool rates in the TAD ramps dropped from $40 to $20, at the direction of the state.

- Monthly parking rates at the Metrodome Ramp increased $20, from $55 to $75.