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It can cost over $1,000 for just a parking spot at this Taylor Swift concert

By Charles Passy

'It's pure greed': Parking prices for concerts now range from $50 to over $1,000

It's no secret that the cost of concert tickets has risen dramatically in recent years - and not just for Taylor Swift shows.

Pollstar, the trade publication that tracks the music industry, reports that the average seat for the top 100 tours in 2023 came out to $122.84, or about triple what it cost in 2000.

But if you really want to get into the financial aspects of seeing your favorite musical artist, you can't ignore the price of parking.

A new study from Upgraded Points, a travel website, found that in some major American cities, the average price for concert parking easily tops $50. Among the most expensive: New York ($56.24), Boston ($61.26) and Los Angeles ($79.50). But topping them all was San Francisco, where it costs $89.11.

Even in cities on the more affordable end of the spectrum - such as Phoenix, Providence, R.I., and Buffalo, N.Y. - parking prices went for between $25 and $30, according to the study.

Audrey Small, a research assistant with Upgraded Points, said it's clear that the days when concertgoers could pay for parking with a little cash on hand are long gone.

"Now you need a credit card," she said. "It's definitely shifted."

Upgraded Points based its findings on prices found on Vivid Seats, a ticket-resale platform that also lists parking passes, as do other resale sites such as SeatGeek and StubHub.

In extreme cases, passes on such sites can go for much more.

Take Taylor Swift's sold-out dates this coming October at Hard Rock Stadium, just outside Miami: On StubHub, a parking pass for one show starts at $56, but tops out at more than $1,000 for a prime, close-to-the-venue spot. Similar pricing was found on SeatGeek and Vivid Seats.

All three resale sites didn't respond to MarketWatch requests for comment.

Of course, concert buyers have the option to purchase parking directly from the venue, if there's a garage or lot on site, or through independent parking operators, provided space is available. But prices can still be high.

Needless to say, concertgoers are none too pleased about the situation.

"It's just pure greed," said Judy Speicher, a New Jersey resident who paid $60 for parking at New York's Citi Field when she attended a Dead & Company concert last summer.

To be clear, it's not the artists who are seeing all those parking proceeds, according to music-industry professionals. In general, parking money goes to the operator of the lot or garage, be it the venue or an independent company.

And this may simply be a case of parking operators working with a captive audience - that is, fans who want to see the show no matter what and are willing to pay whatever it takes.

"People can charge what they want," said Holly Gleason, a veteran music journalist and Pollstar contributing editor.

Clearly, enough concertgoers are forking over the money, or operators would be charging less. Gleason attributed it to what she calls the "crazy concert culture" that has emerged in recent years, where fans treat attending shows like once-in-a-lifetime events and spend thousands of dollars in the process.

In the case of Taylor Swift concerts, that has often meant traveling to faraway cities and not just paying for tickets, but also airfare, hotels and possibly car rentals. If anything, the parking may be the cheapest aspect.

Still, there's plenty of frustration regarding parking pricing - and that goes beyond the fans.

One venue operator, Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., has been particularly concerned about resale sites posting parking passes for its shows since it doesn't actually charge for parking, as it's included in the price of a ticket to its events.

"It's infuriating," said venue spokesperson Audrey Fix Schaefer about the situation.

What alternative do fans have to paying these high prices for parking? Obviously, if public transportation is available, they can opt for that. Or they can consider taking a taxi or using a rideshare service, such as Uber (UBER) or Lyft (LYFT).

But some concertgoers report that the ride-booking services aren't necessarily a better deal, especially when surge pricing is factored into the equation.

In the end, Small, the Upgraded Points researcher, said parking may end up being the best financial option.

"You have to really weigh the question of, 'Am I saving money?'" she noted.

-Charles Passy

This content was created by MarketWatch, which is operated by Dow Jones & Co. MarketWatch is published independently from Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.

 

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06-24-24 1013ET

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