Parking Madness: Houston vs. Philadelphia


One thing that sets some parking craters apart is public subsidies. All of the parking moonscapes we feature in the Parking Madness tournament are wastes of urban space, but only some are fueled by taxpayer dollars that could have been spent on education, housing, or — get this — better transit.

That’s the case in Houston and Philadelphia, two cities where stadiums with enormous parking fields received heaps of public subsidies. These cities are spending their own money to generate traffic and flatten acre after acre with impervious asphalt.

The winner of this match will face off against the victor of Lansing vs. Greenville, where the voting remains open until tomorrow.

Let’s take a look at the damage.



Here we have NRG Park in Houston, which includes five separate venues. The NFL’s Houston Texans play at NRG Stadium, which taxpayers chipped in $289 million to build. This is also the home of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, as well as the Astrodome, which remains standing even though the Astros left long ago.

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and this is indeed one of the “world’s largest parking lots,” according to Wikipedia, with 26,000 spaces. More subsidized parking could be on the way: A $105 million public project to refurbish the Astrodome includes a 1,400-space garage.



Older cities in the Northeast with legacy transit systems aren’t exactly setting an example. The South Philadelphia Sports Complex is the site of several large venues that have received hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies, including tens of millions for parking, according to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

There’s a SEPTA stop nearby, which we’ve marked above, but all the parking just makes it more difficult to walk from the transit station to the stadiums.

What say you, readers?


  • The Overhead Wire

    There’s also a light rail stop on the edge of the East side of the Houston mess.

  • George Joseph Lane

    +1, it’s 0.4 miles from the stadia to the light rail stop!

  • Ben

    Don’t forget the 48 acres of the old Astroworld site just south of 610 that was meant to be a mixed use development, but was bought by the Rodeo for NRG parking/tailgating and a car dealership.

  • Lewis Fernrock

    Not only are the Philly stadiums surrounded by huge parking lots, but the site plan does nothing to accommodate folks walking from Broad Street Line station. To walk to Citizen’s Bank you have to go around the fenced in parking lot, crossing a couple of curb cuts (with pedestrian traffic frequently stopped to allow cars past); to get to the Wells Fargo center you essentially filter through the parking lot

  • LazyReader

    Don’t focus on the parking focus on the stadium tey get way more from john q. taxpayer to the tune of millions, hundreds of millions.

  • HamTech87

    Just ridiculous how poorly this was designed. The traffic engineers should be sued for malpractice.


Parking Madness 2015: Tampa vs. Waterville, Maine

So far in round one of this year’s Parking Madness tourney, the parking crater in downtown Newport News, Virginia, knocked off the surface parking right by L.A.’s North Hollywood metro station, and the parking-scarred waterfront of Camden, New Jersey, beat out downtown Mobile and its carpet of parking lots. Today’s matchup pits sunny Tampa, Florida, […]