Parking For Free At The Ballpark
Recently I interviewed Scott Chamberlain, a prominent member of Ballpark Chasers, and someone who has accomplished a pretty remarkable feat in 2016…he has paid just $2 for parking all season!
Scott graciously took the time to answer my questions and share his tips; hope you enjoy the exchange below. If you’d like to check out Scott’s blog, you can find it at http://woochamberlain.blogspot.com.
How many games did you go to this year, and at how many ballparks?
Up to this point, I am at 61 regular season MLB games at 8 different MLB parks and 155 sporting events on the year. I am at a slight disadvantage location-wise as I live in Indianapolis. I say slight because I have six MLB teams within a 4 1/2-hour drive of me yet none within 100 miles from my doorstep. Last season, I attended 143 MLB regular season games at all 30 MLB parks.
How did you find free parking? You can give me a couple of examples. Did you have a long walk in these cases, or were you going through unsavory areas of town?
I find free parking by trial and error. I have become very adept at reading street signage to be absolutely sure that a spot is free. For instance, on the south side of Chicago…there are a few blocks along 31st street that are free at all times and some that have the dreaded pay box. I’ve yet to receive a ticket as I would hate to see a “free” spot become a costly ticket.
Another good example is Wrigleyville. For day games, you can park on most streets around the stadium for free until 5pm. After that, the tow trucks are out in full force. There are some main roads that have free parking at all times. These you have to walk 8-10 blocks but it’s a lot better than paying $15-$40 to park.
Also, I’ve found spots after doing research online or talking with fellow ballpark chasers. My favorite free spot find was given by a fellow ballpark chaser and close friend. They suggested a road southwest of Safeco Field near the port area. Sure enough, a simple six block walk to the stadium was all that was needed. And rather than fight traffic on the way out, it was strategically placed to where I could head south and onto the highway a couple interchanges down I-5 from Safeco.
Free parking is a must for me not only due to budget constraints but also ease of access. I don’t mind walking a mile or so in exchange for beating traffic around the stadium. However, safety is a concern and I will avoid unsavory areas. Miami, Boston, and Dodger Stadium are the three stadiums that I’ve had to pay for parking or use mass transit for as I haven’t found free areas yet.
Where did you pay $2 and why?
The $2 charge for parking kind of sticks in my craw a bit in hindsight. My drive from Indy to Cincinnati in May was longer than expected due to an accident on interstate 74. There was a bobble head that I wanted and I was worried about not getting it. I shunned one of my three “go to” free parking areas in exchange for rushing to the stadium for the giveaway. Even then, it was a metered spot that ended midway through the game so that’s where my $2 came from.
In retrospect, I wish I had parked in a usual free spot to have a perfect parking record this year.
You’re not cheating with this, right? No public transit or anything?
No cheating. When I did my 30 parks/143 MLB games last year, I kept a running total on every single travel expense from flights to parking to the Sunday morning hotel coffee before a game on getaway day.
What interested me about this exercise was the hidden expenses that are had. When going to Chicago for instance, I would always park at a CTA lot for five dollars and take the CTA train in. This would amount to an eleven-dollar move. Meanwhile, I was already in my car and for a few extra miles, could skip that move and park on the street.
New York and Boston are the only cities where I skip driving to games due to traffic or ease of access via mass transit. However, if you are wanting to do a NY/Philly doubleheader, street parking can be had in NY and Philly for a quick get-away.
What do you suggest for someone looking to park for free at the game? What are the hardest ballparks to find free parking, and which are the easiest?
If a fan is going to a game on a budget, parking fees can be a nuisance. I’d suggest arriving a couple of hours early and driving around a little to find good spots. The areas a block or two from the stadium are not necessarily convenient when you consider leaving after the game and fighting outbound traffic.
The easiest parks to find free parking are ones situated in a downtown area. I’ve found that parking on edges of downtown areas and casinos have helped.
The hardest parks have been Boston, LA Dodgers, and Miami.
Do you hope to park completely for free in 2017?
I certainly hope so. I try to go to as many games as possible. It helps the budget to not have to pay to park. Money saved here can go towards a food or drink item at the yard!