Mark Read, a manager in Minneapolis' traffic and parking department, pitched a novel idea to elected officials in April. Seeing that "the market has continued to show increased demands on parking," he wrote, the City of Lakes should be cashing in.
Ask and you shall receive.
Minneapolis owns 17 parking ramps and eight lots with a total of 22,226 spaces. Since 2010, event parking at any of the facilities — say for a Twins game or Metallica concert — costs anywhere from $5 to $20.
But last Friday the City Council approved new rates, allowing the city to charge up to $10 more during special events. In the past it was only authorized to charge up to $3 more for such parking.
Read and Tim Drew, a city traffic engineer, explain the potential steep rate hikes in market terms: The city doesn't want to undercut private parking operations. It also wants to be able to increase tolls if the economics on the asphalt permits it.
"If we undercut and everybody starts going to our ramps, we start getting complaints," says Drew. "At the same time, we're filling up so they can't park with us anymore because our ramps would be full at that point.… In that respect, we're doing them [private ramps]a disservice because they're losing customers."
Adds Read: "We do need the ability to respond to market forces."
In other words, the city that's supposed to be working on behalf of the people is digging deeper into their pockets by helping businesses at the expense of residents?
"That's a good question," says Drew. He cautions that the city "plans to stay where we're at," but might "go up slowly" if private lots are charging more.
"We don't want to be real reactionary," he adds.
Non-reactionary likely means fans heading to U.S. Bank Stadium this summer will be paying $30 to park.