Sacramento prepares to pay for new Kings arena with deluge of downtown parking fees

The new Sacramento Kings arena is set to open next month, at a cost of $556.6 million, $255 million of which will come from city coffers. And that also means the extension of parking-meter hours on downtown streets from 6 pm to 10 pm to raise money to pay for the public’s share. The Sacramento Bee has a good long article on how everyone is preparing for this (confusion, mostly), but I’d like to call out just one sentence of it:

Restaurant workers who now park on the street likely will have to adapt.

There are other considerations here for possible negative fallout — like, will some people start steering clear of downtown restaurants once they realize they have to pay for parking — and the city is offering discounted parking in downtown garages for some workers. Still, if you want one epitaph for the publicly funded sports venue era, you could do worse than “workers will have to adapt.”

31 comments on “Sacramento prepares to pay for new Kings arena with deluge of downtown parking fees

  1. I spoke with Matt Eierman, the city’s parking manager, and got nothing but platitudes. No acknowledgement that a good portion of the parking garages downtown close for the night at 6:30. Several are famous for locking cars in overnight if they have not exited in time.

    Regarding coming downtown for other things besides arena events: There are two major theaters downtown – the Community Center Theater and Wells Fargo Pavilion seating 2,400 and 2,200 respectively. I have heard from many season ticket holders, single ticket buyers, and volunteers that this season will likely be the last time they support these amenities. Parking is already nearly impossible to get on show nights.

  2. On another note, news came out today that the city is going to hire a “dedicated administrator” with a salary between $80K and $107K to hand out the arena tickets that the city controls. This administrator will be “required” to attend all arena events to “chaperone” those who got free tickets.

    • I know people who perform this function as an official function of their jobs, and this isn’t a full-time job, at all.

      I hope the Council gets an earful on this one. This is a function they need to contract out.

  3. Parking will work itself out. It always does. If there’s enough money to be made from people parking for Kings games, garages that currently close early will start staying open. It’s happened countless times in cities around the world.

    Anyway, you people should be happy about the increased parking fees. High parking prices are known to be the number one way to influence people to ride share or take public transportation. It’ll be good for global warming.

    • Ben, this site is about climate change. Parking works it’s selfout, sometimes by people going elsewhere. Parking fees can be a good way to subsidize public transportation, if an area has good services; I don’t know about Sacremento. But, if I’m a theater or a restaurant, and my parking fees are being used to subsidize an entertainment competitor, this would outrage me.

    • Increased downtown parking fees are a terrible way to reduce fossil fuel use, since they can easily be gotten around by not going downtown.

      Tolls or (best yet) a gas tax are way better, but even then, most advocates for them think you should spend the proceeds on providing more access to mass transit, since otherwise you’re screwing over people who can’t afford to spend more on their cars or to live in a mass-transit-served neighborhood:

    • First, public transportation is not available to a vast majority of this town. If you do not live near a rail station, there is little option but to drive if you are not traveling during commute hours. There are very few bus routes during off-hours. Parking at one of the park-and-ride lots virtually guarantees vandalism or theft – it happens every day in the lot closest to me and that is during the day. It will be much worse at night.

      Second, the only times that RT will be running past its current schedule is when there is an event at the arena – and it will only be for 30 minutes past the time the event ends. With a starting time of 7:30 PM the game should end by 10:00 PM so RT will stop its extended schedule at 10:30 PM. The theater gets out at 11:00 PM – no more train. For nights when there is no event at the arena – no train at all. However, parking will still be jacked sky-high. Night-time parking in the garages used to be $5.00 or $8.00 on nights with downtown events.

      Third, I doubt the garages I am referring to will extend their hours. Some are valet-only. Others are tied to businesses where the access to the garage is through the business – business closes, garage closes.

    • “If there’s enough money to be made from people parking for Kings games, garages that currently close early will start staying open.”

      Similarly, there’s enough money to be made from owning the Kings to build their own facility, yet you never seem to come out on that side.

      “…you people should be happy…”

      “You people”? Really, dude? There’s something rather amazing about coming to the conclusion that allowing the free market to do its thing is a liberal concern, like global warming.

      • As someone who had a comment pulled recently, I’m mildly happy to see that ‘you people’ has been granted tacit approval.

        • I actually missed that line when it was first posted — I really need a social media intern.

          Without getting into what exactly qualifies as an “attack” and what doesn’t — we could be here for hours — can everyone please take it down a notch? There’s plenty to fight about without making this about the people who are making the arguments. And while some of you may disagree with making that the line in the sand, it’s the one that’s worked for this site so far and that I’m going to stick with.

          • My reply was tongue-in-cheek. Your site. You can decide what flies and what doesn’t.

            That said, I’m all for allowing ‘you people.’

  4. Over the 12 years since Petco Park opened in San Diego and as a Padre 40-game season ticket holder, I’d estimate that I’ve saved in excess of $7,000 by never paying for parking, as I always find street parking or loading zone parking after 6pm. Oh, sure, once in a while I have to throw a quarter in a meter if I get to a game super early and have to cover a few minutes. And for weekday day games I park a mile or so away (for free) in Balboa Park. Two years ago the city changed enforcement to 8pm for a portion of downtown, primarily in the restaurant district, but keeping very close to the ballpark.

    If they change the enforcement to all of downtown, I drop my season tickets just out of principle.

    • That’s the part that ‘directed’ tax advocates often miss, John: That all taxes have a negative effect on the economy.

      I’m the furthest thing from a “Friedman” accolyte (though I am close enough to know that what passes for Friedmanism these days is at best only a part of his actual body of work…), but adding taxes to entertainment options to help pay for their buildings tends to be self defeating. When the tax gets large enough to generate the kind of revenue needed to pay for the facilities, people often find other entertainment options instead.

      If that weren’t the case, taxpayer funded stadia wouldn’t be demanded at all… team owners would just charge $3,000 for a single game ticket (insert Yankees joke here), with half of that going to directly cover stadium costs.

      They don’t do that because they know it won’t work.

  5. I know first-hand the the impact of paying for parking on restaurant workers — which has proven to be a good lesson for my teenage son.

    His first job ever was this summer as a bus boy–low man on the pay-scale totem pole–in downtown San Jose. Once my change bucket was ravaged of quarters, and then he got his first parking ticket, and then he was on the hook for paying for his own parking, he did the math and realized that, depending on the work shift and where he could park, at least the first hour of work each day went straight to paying for parking.

    Fortunately, we live close to downtown, so, some of the time he could bike, or we could drop off/pick-up, or at worst he could walk (he was too lazy-teenager to do all this before he ravaged my change bucket). But when he gets done at 12:30AM on a Sat night, driving is the best/safest option.

    I feel for the other restaurant workers who don’t live close and for whom mass transit–especially late at night–isn’t an option.

  6. At least most cities try to at least portray it as not impacting regular working citizens (hotels taxes impact “tourists”, TIF money is not a new tax, etc.)

    This is shameless.

    • City officials tried to reassure those of us against the whole project that only “arena patrons” would be paying the higher costs.

    • It immediately made me think of the “Borg” characters on Star Trek…. “You will be assimilated and adapt”

      It’s not the friendly message it might seem…

  7. My wife and I have had season tickets at STC for over 25 years, and over those decades, we’ve been able to find free parking nearly every time we go to a show. Now the entire area around there has parking restrictions until 10 p.m., so even if there’s no arena event, our parking terms have changed significantly. That theater is at 15th and H; the arena is at 7th and K.

    Ten blocks from the arena, we are helping pay for the arena, whether the arena is in use that night or not. I was under the mistaken impression that we’d only pay more for parking if there was an arena event the same night. Nope. We pay more for parking whether there’s an arena event or not. It’s really an outrage.

    I personally think this is guaranteed to kill STC. I’d bet that their overall business drops by 10%, which is enough to turn this into no longer being economically viable. Plus, we used to be able to buy parking in advance to use in the lot across from STC, but we can’t anymore. The City no longer offers that as an option.

    I personally think if someone sued the City under provisions from Prop 26, they’d win. This all seems illegal to me.

    • You know it is 10 blocks from the arena. I know it is 10 blocks from the arena. The city insists it is only 4 blocks from the arena. I had this argument with Eierman when he called to placate me regarding parking. They are measuring only as the crow flies and only in one direction.

      I am not a frequent patron of STC but it is part of the same Wells Fargo Pavilion complex as Music Circus. I feel your pain. I think these two theater companies and the Broadway Series will not survive for much longer.

      • Oh, they are also measuring distance from any edge of the arena, not the doors. The doors to the arena will be at 5th and L and at 5th and K. The closest city-owned garage is at 10th and L. By my measurement, it is at least a 5-block walk. Eiermann insisted it was only 3 blocks away.

        • City Hall garage on 10th between I and J?

          There’s also the one in Old Sac near Capitol Mall.

          • That one is a six-block walk from the entrances to the entrance to the garage. It is on Front Street and Capitol and the entrance is between L and Capitol. It is a longer walk than it looks on the maps because you have to cross the freeway at Capitol and back-track.

  8. Also, on STC… The B Street Theater is at 27th and C. The City recently forgave a loan to them.

    Not so with STC. They were given a loan to renovate their theater complex about 15 years ago, and the City isn’t forgiving this loan. Favoritism, and I’m not sure why.

  9. I really can’t wait to see the traffic, too.

    But by the way, I have a relative who runs a restaurant on 16th, south of S. By my count, that’s 16+ blocks from the arena.

    Now it’s in the one-hour zone until 10. I can’t find a parking meter anywhere near his place.

    Too far from the arena to benefit from it; close enough to be penalized by it.