VERO BEACH, FLA. — Parking at Dodger Stadium has usually involved a warm breeze, a tight squeeze and a $10 pinch to the pocketbook.
The gentle wind blowing across the parking lot on balmy summer nights won't change, but this season the free-for-all to get in and out of the stadium should give way to a more orderly system.
As for the pinch, ouch. Parking has gone up from $10 to $15.
About 20,000 cars park at the stadium for most games, so the 50% price increase works out to $100,000 a game in additional revenue, or $8.2 million for the season. About 15% of that will go toward paying about 100 additional parking attendants -- double the current number -- who will direct fans into specific parking spaces.
"We are doing everything in our power to make the parking situation better," Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said Tuesday. "It costs money to do that. We will invest the proceeds into solving the problem."
McCourt made his fortune owning a parking lot in Boston, and said, "Over the years, we've parked a lot of cars. But I'm no parking expert."
So after three years of watching cars zigzag across the stadium lot and cringing as fans walking to and from their cars narrowly avoid getting sideswiped, he hired a parking consultant and a transportation expert to provide solutions.
The concept they introduced -- known in transportation circles as controlled zone parking -- should make the mass entrances and exits less chaotic and, with hope, faster. Many a Dodgers fan has endured the frustrating experience of sitting through the first inning in parking-lot gridlock.
Everyone except season-ticket holders must exit from the same gate they enter, and cars will be directed by attendants to park in specific spaces. Previously, cars could circle the stadium to find a lot and space near their seat regardless of which of the four gates they had entered.
Also, pedestrian walkways have been added as a safety measure. The speed limit is 14 mph and tailgating is still prohibited.
"The challenge at Dodger Stadium is that 20,000 cars all want to be there at the same time and leave at the same time," McCourt said.
Preferred lots for season-ticket holders will be identified by letters rather than numbers to distinguish them more clearly from the general parking lots. The locations of those preferred lots will not change.
As in past seasons, season-ticket holders may enter and exit through any of the four gates, which have been named the Sunset, Golden State, Academy and Downtown gates.
McCourt said parking problems would be eased if there were public transit to the stadium. The Dodgers are working with government agencies to begin the process.
"Ultimately, the big thing is robust public transit," he said. "But that is going to take awhile."
Meanwhile, fans will have to pay more to park. The Dodgers have increased their player payroll this season from about $99 million to $114 million. Much of that hike will be recouped when cars stream into the lot.
Parking for Staples Center events ranges from $15 to $25, but most other baseball venues charge less.
The Angels charge only $8, the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks charge $10, and the San Diego Padres $15, $10, $8 and $5, depending on the distance from the park. The Oakland Athletics charge $15 and private lots around AT&T Park in San Francisco charge $20 to $30.
McCourt said Dodgers rates won't go that high.
"There won't be another increase in a while," he said. "But the investment in making going to a Dodger game the best possible fan experience will continue."
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General admission parking prices for selected teams: