Can We Learn Something From the New Cowboys Stadium?

Following up on something we wrote about a couple of weeks ago — the absurd lack of public transportation options for fans heading to the flashy new Dallas Cowboys Stadium — we have a post from Streetsblog Network member Extraordinary Observations:

3238910401_5e87c56c02.jpgPhoto by K. Muncie via Flickr.

The parking situation
disaster at Cowboys Stadium that I wrote about last week is actually
teaching some valuable real-world lessons about design and
transportation. Here’s the thing.. it’s become such an expectation in
Texas that parking be "free" everywhere (by free, of course I mean
subsidized by someone
else) that charging drivers directly for the privilege is seen as some
sort of earth-shattering outrage. Take a look at this whiny and
obnoxious piece from Drew Magary of NBC-DFW:

Parking.
It’s one of those secret,
forgot-you-were-going-to-have-to-pay-it-until-you-have-to-pay-it
expenses that slowly drains your will to live and often keeps you from
venturing outside of your house and into the greater world at large. I
particularly despise parking because it comes at the end of your
journey, when you have, in theory, arrived at your destination. Only
you haven’t. You gotta find a spot, and you gotta pay dearly for it.
And if you’re going to see the Cowboys this fall, you’re really going
to pay dearly for it.

[There
are] 115,000 potential people in place, at a stadium that has precisely
12,000 spaces on site, all of which cost up to $75 each. There are an
additional 18,000 spots within a mile of the new digs, also costing
between $50 and $75… You could carpool, but that’s for dirty
treehuggers.

I imagine that this author might balk
at the idea of public transit providing service to the new stadium.
It’s hard for anyone who would never use it to see any value. But there
is value, potentially incredible value, both to those who would use the
service and those who still prefer to drive and park. If a fraction of
the Cowboy’s fans took transit from Dallas to Cowboys games, that could
shift the demand curve for parking spaces to the left (by how much I’m
not positive), making life better (read: cheaper) for those who wish to
drive and park. But they can’t — Dallas cannot provide any transit
options thanks to local politics.

There
are lessons here, for sure. But it remains to be seen if the parking
crunch will move any of the voters of Arlington, Texas, a city of
350,000 people where the stadium is located, to reconsider their oft-expressed resistance to public transit.
(You never know who might ride that stuff, after all.) Or how many
Cowboys fans, stuck in traffic and paying through the nose for a place
to park, might come around to the idea that carpooling isn’t so bad —
even if it is something usually engaged in by "dirty tree-huggers."

Don’t hold your breath, though.

More from the network: Bike PGH has a nifty table showing how Pittsburgh and other U.S. cities stack up in the bike commuting department. The Transport Politic looks at the issues raised by a planned transit link between El Paso and Juárez. And Hard Drive reports on plummeting pickup sales.

  • Lee Gibson

    Just this morning, the Dallas Morning News ran a letter from an Arlington resident who took public transit to the State Fair of Texas. He complained that the ticket dispensers didn’t take credit cards. This proves his idea that public transit is for the “cash only people,” as he called them, and he vowed to drive to the Fair from now on.

  • DCA

    The idea that mass transit will bring crimminals to Arlington is stupid. The crimminals are already coming to Arlington. In suburbs the crimminal drive there (often in a stolen cat) with two or three guys – drive around to find a target – break in to a house or steal a car and drive home. A train does not really help them.

  • CJ

    I don’t see how a stolen cat helps them either.

    Also.

  • DK

    Sorry, you’re right about the need for public transportation but you obviously don’t know who Drew Magary is. He’s a sports satire writer who works for deadspin.com, kissingsuzykolber.com and sportspickle.com. He’s been making fun of the cost of EVERYTHING at Cowboys Stadium for weeks. While I have no doubt that he’s semi serious about parking in general he’s more or less just being obnoxious to be obnoxious. That’s kind of his thing….looking up his writing on any of the above mentioned sites or his book called Men with Balls

  • Gus

    And how many of the people driving in the mess after the game had a few too many beers?

  • ArC

    Would that even be allowable under the new-ish FTA “no added service for special events” rule? (ref http://your.kingcounty.gov/kcdot/news/2008/nr080509_specialservice.htm )

  • Tokyokie

    Folks need to realize that the new Cowboys Stadium exists precisely because there is no public transit. Dallas, Fort Worth and almost all the major suburbs are part of a regional transportation authority and taxpayers pay a half-cent in sales tax in those municipalities. The notable exception to the transit authority is Arlington, and, once the bonds for building Rangers Ballpark were retired, the city had that half-cent of sales tax available to guarantee the bonds for another stadium construction project. Because Texas caps local sales tax rates, no other city in the area could match Arlington’s incentives. That the demand for parking would be such that Jerry Jones could brutally steep prices is just a bonus for him.

  • RK

    Carpooling should never be used as an excuse to avoid public transportation, but it doesn’t much lower the demand for parking either in this case.

    The National Resources Defence Council website http://www.greensports.org website recommends the use of the “club website to coordinate carpooling”.

    Websites like http://www.viamerge.com, which is specifically for ridesharing to events, make it really easy.

    Rose Kudlac
    Viamerge

  • DJ

    And, if the SF 49ers move to Santa Clara, they will have even LESS on-site parking!! And, forget all about tailgating! No place, no way. Certainly not in the only garage … and do you think the businesses (where you MAY be parking) will allow it? I would not count on it.

    The City of Santa Clara has a reputation for making stupid decisions and having the 49ers move to Santa Clara is right in line with the rest of their stupid actions. And, there is no indication about what’s going to happen to traffic. The SCPD can’t get people out of Great America after 4th of July fireworks … how are they (less than 250 officers) going to handle 65,000+ people?? The locations is BURIED in the city with awful access to everything except 101. There are at least 18 stop lights from 280 to the proposed site! The site is TOO SMALL! No top on the stadium? It might be new, but it certainly won’t be “state-of-the-art” unless you consider a new screen, state of the art! Who are they kidding!!

    And, when the voters figure out that it is going to cost them MILLIONS of dollars that the City does NOT have … they will finally take off the rose-colored glasses and vote it down.

    This deal is a sweetheart deal for the Yorks! And, ONLY the Yorks! The citizens/taxpayers of Santa Clara should not be supporting a billionaire … stop the BS … go away and stay in San Francisco!

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