Can We Learn Something From the New Cowboys Stadium?

Following up on something we wrote about a couple of weeks ago — the absurd lack of public transportation options for fans heading to the flashy new Dallas Cowboys Stadium — we have a post from Streetsblog Network member Extraordinary Observations:

3238910401_5e87c56c02.jpgPhoto by K. Muncie via Flickr.

The parking situation disaster at Cowboys Stadium that I wrote about last week is actually teaching some valuable real-world lessons about design and transportation. Here’s the thing.. it’s become such an expectation in Texas that parking be "free" everywhere (by free, of course I mean subsidized by someone
else) that charging drivers directly for the privilege is seen as some
sort of earth-shattering outrage. Take a look at this whiny and
obnoxious piece from Drew Magary of NBC-DFW:

Parking.
It’s one of those secret,
forgot-you-were-going-to-have-to-pay-it-until-you-have-to-pay-it
expenses that slowly drains your will to live and often keeps you from
venturing outside of your house and into the greater world at large. I
particularly despise parking because it comes at the end of your
journey, when you have, in theory, arrived at your destination. Only
you haven’t. You gotta find a spot, and you gotta pay dearly for it.
And if you’re going to see the Cowboys this fall, you’re really going
to pay dearly for it.

[There
are] 115,000 potential people in place, at a stadium that has precisely
12,000 spaces on site, all of which cost up to $75 each. There are an
additional 18,000 spots within a mile of the new digs, also costing
between $50 and $75… You could carpool, but that’s for dirty
treehuggers.

I imagine that this author might balk
at the idea of public transit providing service to the new stadium.
It’s hard for anyone who would never use it to see any value. But there
is value, potentially incredible value, both to those who would use the
service and those who still prefer to drive and park. If a fraction of
the Cowboy’s fans took transit from Dallas to Cowboys games, that could
shift the demand curve for parking spaces to the left (by how much I’m
not positive), making life better (read: cheaper) for those who wish to
drive and park. But they can’t — Dallas cannot provide any transit
options thanks to local politics.

There are lessons here, for sure. But it remains to be seen if the parking crunch will move any of the voters of Arlington, Texas, a city of 350,000 people where the stadium is located, to reconsider their oft-expressed resistance to public transit. (You never know who might ride that stuff, after all.) Or how many Cowboys fans, stuck in traffic and paying through the nose for a place to park, might come around to the idea that carpooling isn’t so bad — even if it is something usually engaged in by "dirty tree-huggers."

Don’t hold your breath, though.

More from the network: Bike PGH has a nifty table showing how Pittsburgh and other U.S. cities stack up in the bike commuting department. The Transport Politic looks at the issues raised by a planned transit link between El Paso and Juárez. And Hard Drive reports on plummeting pickup sales.

  • MrManhattan

    Reality: Revenge of the “Dirty Tree Huggers”!!

  • john

    Parking lot too big or too far away to walk? “May I suggest a Segway”. Sick.

  • J

    It’s funny you mention that transit use will drive parking demand (and price) down. The Prudential Center and NJ Devils in Newark heavily promoted the new arena’s proximity to transit. The people who were upset most by the results: Parking Operators.

  • Anon

    And then there is the situation in the Meadowlands, where a rail line was built but is overwhelmed by the number of people trying to use it. It only highlights the problem of a stadium that is built at a site completely isolated from urbanity and from any regular transit service.

  • Deacon

    The people of Arlington got the stadium and now they also got the traffic. Let them suffer. Saying things like “We don’t want those kinds of people.” meaning those that would use public transport if it existed, in their city. Let them suffer 20 000 cars for seasons of Sundays. I love it. Their ignorance is typical here in the Metroplex. Let it bite them in the ass.

  • Rob

    The voters of Arlington should get what they deserve. The problem in this instance is that their decisions affect those who don’t get to vote on the issue. If you live in the city of Dallas and want an alternative to the current drive/park situation at Cowyboys Stadium, you don’t have it because the good people of Arlington won’t let you have it.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Re anons observation: when you build it near mass transit the neighbors oppose it because it is “out of context” exactly why the Dodgers moved to LA.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Re anons observation: when you build it near mass transit the neighbors oppose it because it is ‘out of context’ exactly why the Dodgers moved to LA.”

    And the Nets are having so much trouble moving to Brooklyn.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    As usual Larry read between my lines. Thanks man.

  • The Nets are having so much trouble moving to Brooklyn because their plan sucks, guys. Overriding zoning so you can place a basketball arena directly across the street from brownstones and little wood-frame houses, subsidized with a billion dollars-plus of taxpayer money and enabled by eminent domain, was a bad idea doomed to failure from the start.

    And the Dodgers moved to LA because Robert Moses thought their proposed ballpark would generate too much traffic — not because neighbors thought it was out of context. Sorry, but there’s a lot more nuance to the Atlantic Yards story than “density good, NIMBYs bad.”

    And last I checked, a basketball arena is hardly necessary infrastructure.

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