Free parking history at Westerner Park

Major event patrons at Westerner Park will have to pay a fee to park starting in September.

Major event patrons at Westerner Park will have to pay a fee to park starting in September.

John Harms, Westerner Park chief executive officer, said on Wednesday that a $3 fee will be charged per vehicle for all major events beginning on Sept. 1.

Harms said improved parking through an expanded parking lot added 580 stalls this summer.

A reconfiguration of the grounds is part of a long-term strategic development plant which was started last year.

“The plan creates new, more convenient traffic and pedestrian flows, so it’s easier to get on and off the site and easier to move around once you’re here,” Harms said.

For Red Deer Rebels season ticket holders, that adds almost $110 to their hockey bill since the Rebels play about 36 regular season home games. Playoff dates will boost that total.

Marv Shingleton of Red Deer, who usually buys season tickets with a family member, said the extra money is a “pain” at a time when the economy is slow.

“I guess we’ll have to pay it but it might mean not buying something at the concession for a game.

“It doesn’t make sense as far as spending goes since it goes out of one pocket into another.”

Shingleton said he doesn’t know if other season ticket holders will balk at the ticket price coupled with parking fees now.

“Talk last year was that some people wouldn’t be buying season passes again because of the cost and the team doesn’t seem to win much any more.”

Major event patrons were charged a $2 fee last year for parking on the north side of the Centrium while patrons still parked for free on the larger southwest lot.

Harms said the fee is an attempt to generate revenue for much-needed future capital expansion plans.

It will also cover the costs of the additional stalls and the ongoing maintenance of the large parking facilities, which includes snow removal.

“While no one likes to add new fees, we are pleased that we have been able to keep our fee low,” Harms said.

Harms said the trend at event centres across Canada is to include these fees.

He said Westerner Park fees “will compare very favourably to fees of up to $12 per vehicle at other venues.”

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com

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