Point of View
Stadiums in Kansas City, Valets, and Murphy
By John Van Horn
They are passing a law in Missouri that says folks from the "show me" state will receive a 50% discount on parking at the stadiums where the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals play.
It's like this: If you live in Kansas and drive the few miles to see your team the Chiefs play football or the Royals play baseball, you will pay 50% more to park than those who drive a few miles to see their teams play but live in Missouri. (Kansas City, for you geographically challenged, is on the Missouri/Kansas state line. You can live in Kansas City KA, and your friend in Kansas City MO, and actually be only a few feet from each other.)
Sooooo, I show up for the game and drive up to the parking attendant. How does he tell where I'm from? Does he check my license number (I'm sure there are a lot of folks who actually live in Kansas and have "MO" license plates and vice versa) or what, my driver's license or water bill?
The justification for this is that some politician feels that the Kansas folks should pay more since the Missouri folks are paying for the refurbishment of the stadium with their sales tax. That in itself makes no sense to me. If the Chiefs and Royals want a prettier place, let them pay for it. If they can't afford it, raise the ticket prices to all the people who come to see the games, or lower the outrageous salaries of the players. I'm sure there will be a lot of people who will pay the increased taxes in Missouri who will never attend a game. (Whoops, that's a bit off the subject, isn't it.) But that isn't fair, either since this tax increase is only in Jackson County, where I assume Kansas City, MO, is located. What about people from the 'burbs outside Jackson County. Do they get the half rate? They won't be paying the extra taxes.
The pols have an answer to that. They say that folks in surrounding counties will shop in Kansas City, MO, and therefore pay the extra taxes (about 30%). Now, does that mean the folks from Kansas don't cross the state line and visit the fine stores at Crown Center in Kansas City, MO?
In the end, the only people who will profit from this will be the attendants who will simply have no Kansas folks in their line, ever.
I had dinner the other night with a fellow who ran a lot of event parking in Missouri. It was flat rate collected on entrance. He had all sorts of ways to ensure that the right amount of money was collected per car. Most of them seemed to work well, but none of them allowed for a different amount to be collected depending on the origin of the car, or its contents.
These people are on the ragged edge.
We are beginning a new feature this month, taken from a list created by a focus group on PT that met in January in Chicago. The list was long, and you will be seeing changes in your favorite parking magazine throughout the year. This month, an old friend and colleague of mine, Peter Guest, is beginning an ongoing column featuring parking in Europe. You may remember Peter's work in past issues of PT, particularly a great article on parking in China.
This next item is appropriate, since we have a couple of topics on valet parking in this month's PT. It seems that these operations may be money losers for airports, even though they are popular with the traveler.
If a valet operation takes up the most expensive parking spaces in the airport - those that are closest to the terminals - then they end up competing with their own self-park. At least that's the argument. I don't really understand it, however, because if a person normally pays $25 a day to park in self-park and you charge $35 a day for the same space parked by a valet, what's the problem?
I can, of course, see one issue that needs to be finessed - if the valet operation blocks out, say, 200 spaces for valet, and the garage fills with self-park but not valet, then those unused valet spaces could cost some revenue. However, it would seem they could make the valet area fluid enough to cover this issue.
If the cost of the valet portion of the operation is more than the $10, charge $40 or whatever it takes to cover your costs. By the way, you should be able to get more cars into a valet operation than in regular parking, because you can stack-park based on when a person is scheduled to return. And if they can't make a profit at $10 or $15 a car to park it valet, turn the operation over to a professional valet company and let them do it. I'm sure there are some that would kill to get the job of parking cars at $15 per.
I visited a site in Los Angeles where a new very high-tech valet/contract system was installed. It was running smooth as glass. Card holders used an AVI system with the AVI tags installed under the front license plate of the vehicle. You barely had to slow down to gain entry.
Except, of course, for one person. The installing company was dealing with the problem as I was there. Although nearly 1,500 cards worked perfectly every day, this one didn't, for whatever reason.
Who was it? The owner of the property, of course. Murphy's Law in spades.
Article Abstract from March, 2006