FanPost

The Royals are uniquely gouging fans for parking

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Parking prices at Kauffman stadium have risen steadily over time, and are now set at $20/game despite the team being well into a sixth straight disappointing season. Fans are used to stadiums offering overpriced services, and collectively don't seem to mind, as concessions have little trouble selling beer and hot dogs for double to triple their retail value anywhere else. So one could easily argue that parking prices don't really matter, they're just another aspect of going to a baseball game.

However, I feel that parking is different from concessions in a way that is relatively unique to the Royals. Whenever a purchase is discretionary, one can always argue that customers have choice. Just don't buy the expensive beer or popcorn (although the ban on bringing in food or drink makes this harder). But parking is different, because at Kauffman Stadium, it's essentially required. No public transit serves the stadium in a way usable for baseball games, and its isolated location means that non-official parking lots aren't a viable option. There are a few hotels nearby, but these aren't really an option for local fans, and even walking to the stadium from these is rather dangerous, as I wrote about at length back in 2016; nothing has changed since. In theory you can use a ride-share service, but this isn't a practical choice for tens of thousands of fans at a time. It's $20 for a few hours of empty concrete that's free at any box store.

Why is this a unique problem to the Royals? Because none of the other teams in the region, including the entire AL Central, NL Central, Colorado Rockies, and Texas Rangers, charge so much and hold such a monopoly over stadium access. I went to the official sites for all of these teams and noted the official parking prices (ignoring third-party lots) and whether public transit options were available. Of the 12 teams I looked at, every single one except the Royals and Rangers had public transit options for attending games, and all but the Cardinals prominently advertised these as alternatives to paid parking. And no team except the Cardinals charged as much as the Royals do for parking. Take a look:

Official parking costs (from team websites) and transit availability, AL and NL Central plus Colorado Rockies & Texas Rangers

Royals: $20 flat fee, no transit options

Tigers: $8–22, transit available

Twins: $10–12, transit available

White Sox: $10–20, transit available

Indians: $5–20, transit available

Cardinals: $20 flat fee, transit available

Reds: $12–20, transit available

Pirates: $5–8, transit available

Cubs: $0 (free lots with shuttles, plus transit; no paid options offered)

Brewers: $12–30, transit available

Rockies: $17–22, transit available

Rangers: $15–30, no transit options

Again, this ignores third-party options, this is what the teams themselves are marketing. The Royals stand out like a sore thumb for their combination of parking fees and no other options. The Cardinals are as expensive, yet do have transit and a walkable downtown site with third-party options. The Rangers have no transit and are more isolated (though they do have a trolley district serving local hotels), but are $5 cheaper. And most of these other stadiums are urban in what one assumes are expensive real estate zones, yet they manage to charge their fans less while encouraging other transportation options.

Perhaps these unusually high parking fees could be forgiven if the Royals were consistently competitive, investing that extra revenue into the team. But we all know that's not true (or at least it's not working), and indeed there are few teams in that list that have been as abysmal as the Royals in recent memory. Indeed, 6 of these 12 made the playoffs just last year, and all but the Pirates and Tigers made the playoffs more recently than the Royals (and those two teams have some of the cheapest parking in the list, not to mention unusually good transit options).

The only real conclusion here is that the Royals have a monopoly over parking and fan access that is almost unique in their region, and they are milking it for all it's worth. The closest gougers are the Cardinals and Rangers, and is that really the company we should be in? There's nothing about Kauffman Stadium, as wonderful as it is, that would require it to be more expensive to park at than the newer and/or more expensive stadiums that fill the list above, beyond sheer monopolistic greed.

It doesn't have to be like this. The Royals could institute zonal parking charges like many other teams, charging less for spots further away. They could institute shuttles to help move fans around large, hot lots during summer. They could partner with local governments to work on functional transit options. They could improve the stadium grounds so that even walking from hotels isn't a ridiculous adventure. They could simply lower parking prices to reflect the poor quality of the team and encourage more attendance that might actually bring in more revenue from ticket sales and concessions.

The Royals can, and should, do better for the fans that keep supporting them through so many dismal (and a few glorious) seasons. If you're going to gouge us on parking, invest the loot in the team so it's worth paying for. Otherwise, give us a break and make it more affordable and/or easier to visit the ballpark. Every other team in the region seems to understand this, so it's time Kansas City did, too.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.