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Kansas City says it needs to charge higher event parking fees

Kansas City intends to raise the event parking price it charges in the city-owned Auditorium Garage under Barney Allis Plaza, starting July 1.
Kansas City intends to raise the event parking price it charges in the city-owned Auditorium Garage under Barney Allis Plaza, starting July 1. File photo

Kansas City intends to raise the event parking price it charges in the city-owned Auditorium Garage under Barney Allis Plaza, starting July 1.

The city’s Convention Management Advisory Authority on Wednesday recommended an increase in the flat event fee from $8 to $10 for the prime garage serving the Kansas City Convention Center and Municipal Auditorium complex.

Kansas City parking manager Bruce Campbell said the decision was based on a market study of comparative downtown rates in privately owned parking facilities.

“Our last increase was in 2014, when we went from $7 to $8,” Campbell said. “We think it’s reasonable to take us to $10.”

The event-rate change will not affect other hourly, daily or monthly rates in the Auditorium Garage.

Campbell said the $2 increase for specifically designated events — such as concerts, shows and sports events — could put an additional $70,000 a year into city coffers.

Events that have already negotiated lower group rates won’t be affected by the increase, he said.

The Big 12 Tournament will likely continue to be an exception to the new rate, Campbell said. Based on demand and what other parking venues are doing, he said the Barney Allis garage charged $20 during that tournament last year.

The convention management authority heard frustrations from the producer of the Kansas City Auto Show, who read Facebook comments from people who said they tried to attend last year’s event but left because they couldn’t find parking.

Campbell said he hopes the city’s new affiliation with Parkmobile will ease downtown parking frustrations. The Parkmobile app enables drivers to find, reserve and pay by phone for a parking spot ahead of time in 10 municipal lots or garages.

City parking officials said there is a lot of unused parking available in the downtown area, even when big events are occurring simultaneously. It’s just that people unfamiliar with downtown don’t know where all the options are located.

“That’s a reason for the Parkmobile app,” Campbell said. “And we’re also talking to DST and other companies about their portfolio of garages. It’s an issue we understand and are trying to address.”

Visit KC CEO Ronnie Burt said Kansas City is experiencing growing pains as a downtown convention and special-events venue. He said it’s not abnormal for other cities to raise parking prices when they host national or regional events.

“If during the Big 12, we stayed at $10 and everyone else is at $20, people will flood the cheaper parking as opposed to spreading out,” Campbell said, making a plug for city prices that fall in line with other market forces.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford

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