Sporting arenas around the world host some of the most amazing and iconic events. From earth-shaking rock concerts to deafening cheers at a hometown game, people come out in droves to be apart of the experience. That’s until they have to eventually leave.
Nothing can ruin a great time at an event more than the inevitable traffic leaving the venue. Celebrating a home team win can immediately be overshadowed by the time staring at a sea of red brake lights on the way home. Improving guest experience can start with things as little as adding bike parking around the property.
In a perfect world, there would be limited to zero parking around stadiums – but that’s just unrealistic. The tailgating culture that comes with sporting events is engrained in the experience. For guests who don’t participate in finger food buffets, getting to the game by means other than driving can be a game changer. Promoting the use of public transit or other forms of transportation not only reduces traffic, but improves guest experiences as well.
The bright spot in new stadium design is the focus on access to alternative transportation options. In an effort to limit incoming and outgoing stadium traffic, newly built venues are choosing central locations so walking, biking, and metroing are viable options. The new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis is a perfect example of a stadium offering limited parking on-site – encouraging fans to leave their cars behind.
For stadiums and arenas that aren’t brand new, changing the mentality of fans and concert goers can be a daunting task – especially if they have been loyally driving year after year. Another hitch in the transit game plan is the lack of public transit within close proximity to the arena. Working with local agencies to improve infrastructure or adding bike-friendly features can begin to change the guests’ mentality.
Free transit passes: Working with local transit agencies or private mobility companies can increase the usage of alternative methods of transportation by guests.
For the Golden State Warriors new Chase Center opening, they have partnered with the local transit agency, MUNI, to offer free rides for guests with proof of purchase to the day’s event – whether it’s a concert or home game. This relieves the stress and cost of getting to and from games and events.
Bike parking: Guest sometimes want to get a quick workout in while on the way to an event. A growing trend for arenas and stadiums is offering both self-parking bike racks, as well as valet bike parking.
Not only does Nationals Park in Washington, DC have over 250 bike racks in close proximity to the stadium, they offer free valet bicycle parking for two-wheeled traveling fans. There’s also a metro stop no more than two blocks from the main entrance.
Shuttle services: When parking at the site of a stadium doesn’t work out, parking at a nearby lot is a backup plan for most guests. To bridge the distance between off-site parking lots and the stadium, providing a shuttle service for guests can make the overall experience that much better.
The soon to be Las Vegas Raiders – currently the Oakland Raiders – are building a new $1.8 billion stadium (give or take), just off the famed Las Vegas Strip. To make up for limited parking on-site, the Raiders organization is working with local agencies to improve shuttle services for satellite parking lots to and from the stadium.
To build on existing shuttle services in the area, the Regional Transit Commission (RTC) is looking to technology for help. The RTC is running an on-demand shuttle hailing pilot program, Trip to Strip, which will allow guests parked in satellite lots to order a Ford Sprinter from their phone – which can accommodate up to 11 guests at a time. For an area lacking a robust public transit system, the city and the Raiders organization are working to implement new gameday programs.
The transit champions
Teams move stadiums once every two to three decades and the planning starts way before the move actually happens. The most important part of a successful stadium move its accessibility for guests and fans. It can have all the bells and whistles inside, but if guests can’t get there, on-site amenities are essentially useless. Fortunately, there are several stadiums and arenas around the country that are excellent examples of guest accessibility – in addition to the venues mentioned above.
Seattle ranks in the top ten for best transit systems in the country and their residents take advantage – especially on gameday. Ranking as the most accessible NFL stadium based on their MobilityScore – a near-perfect 99 – fans have a plethora of options for getting to CenturyLink Field. With the King County Metro, SoundTransit (bus and rail), ferry, and biking parking all just blocks from the stadium, fans can leave their cars at home without a second thought.
Minneapolis-St. Paul has added nearly 75,000 residents since 2010 and the growth is continuing. A rapidly growing population means a rapidly growing fan base for the local sports teams – especially the Minnesota Twins. Fortunately, getting to Target Field is easy for fans coming from all over the region – even without getting in the car and driving there. Fans traveling to watch nine innings can choose between the bus, the Metro light rail, the North Star commuter rail, or the SouthWest Transit. If fans choose to get a workout in on the way to the game, they can bike or walk on trails leading straight to the park, with hundreds of bike parking spots at and around the park.
The last buzzer
Not all sporting venues are in a downtown area with access to multiple public transit options – we get that. But offering as many alternative methods as possible to make an arena or stadium as accessible as possible for fans provides an elevated experience. A positive gameday experience starts before fans get to the game and it’s on the organizations and cities to help. Provide a shuttle service from satellite locations or add bike parking. Any little thing to help can be the difference in guest attendance!