Parking Madness Final Four: Lansing vs Philadelphia


It’s Final Four time here at Parking Madness.

There is still one outstanding space in the semifinal of our bracket — which will be filled by either Fremont, California, or Hicksville, New York. The competition rolls on today as we get ready to send our first finalist through to the championship.

These parking craters around Michigan’s state capitol and Philadelphia’s pro sports complex represent enormous opportunity costs. They occupy land that could be apartments, or workplaces, or parks. Instead, they are mostly empty asphalt, either in the center of town or very close to a rapid transit station.

Let’s take a look.



Reader Rick Brown nominated the area around the Michigan statehouse in Lansing. Here’s a closer look if you’d like to explore.

Brown tells us most of these parking fields are for state employees and visitors to the capitol. Which means this vicinity is a ghost town on nights and weekends.

State capitols have appeared in Parking Madness before. UConn Professor Norm Garrick lives near one of them — Hartford. He told Streetfilms a few years back that when states build large parking craters to guarantee state employees parking, they “create what is essentially an office park,” and “all these people drive into the city and then drive out.”

To make matters worse, none of this land produces any tax revenue for the city. In cities like Lansing and Hartford where the urban population is much poorer than the suburban population, this can cause serious fiscal problems, weakening public services and widening inequality.



Ahhh. Here we have South Philadelphia’s Sports Complex, which flattened an ungodly amount of land.

Occupying as much space as an entire city neighborhood are three pro sports stadiums — Citizens Bank Park (home the Phillies), Financial Field (home of the Eagles), and Wells Fargo Center (home of the 76ers) — and their parking lots.

There’s a SEPTA rail station right nearby, but if it’s not game day, why would you take transit to this location? And even if you did take the train to watch your team, good luck walking somewhere to get a drink after the game!

Way to put your public resources to effective use, Philadelphia.


12 thoughts on Parking Madness Final Four: Lansing vs Philadelphia

  1. Such a tough choice. Craters for sports fans vs. state office workers. Both in places that could use the space for taxpaying development.

  2. Gotta be Lansing. The crater in Philly is gross, yet common- lots of cities have thrown up subsidized stadiums and parking in the burbs near major freeways, but Lansing’s crater is smack dab in the middle of downtown.

  3. There is an entertainment complex next to the Philadelphia arena where you can get drinks, and the parking lots operate as park & ride during weekdays. So while there is a ton of wasted space, it’s not as bad its made out here. Plus, it’s not downtown.

  4. Re: Philly– “why would you take transit to this location? And even if you did take the train to watch your team, good luck walking somewhere to get a drink after the game!”

    The photo above crops out the huge FDR park just to the west of this that has its own fishing lake and attracts families from the city– also just to the north you can see a whole neighborhood of houses that people would take the subway from to work downtown.

    If you want a drink after a game you can walk two steps to Xfinity Live which has gotta be the biggest indoor mall of bars I’ve ever seen…. I think this blurb goes out of its way to make the totally reasonable parking around three stadiums at the edge of town sound like a disaster

  5. Does anyone actually enjoy going to sports events in the middle of parking craters? As a kid, I loved taking the crowded green line to baseball games at Fenway, walk/running out the station in excitement to the game. Cutting by the smelly sausage carts & the bootleg tee-shirt guys staying a step ahead of the police.

  6. quite by accident, the Massachusetts state house in Boston has no parking crater to speak of, and the parking crater for Fenway park is miniscule and getting smaller.

  7. I used to enjoy tailgating and throwing a football around in Candlestick Park’s lot, but also really enjoy AT&T Park’s central location. Pre-game it’s close (AT&T Park wins though) but post game AT&T Park definitely wins. Sitting in a car waiting with thousands of other people to get out at the same time is no fun.

  8. That’s not the middle of downtown Lansing, you clearly know nothing. Lansing’s downtown is to the right of this photo not shown.

  9. ??? of course you can’t have a downtown where there is a crater. the crater is behind the capitol and the downtown is in front of it. the crater is about the same size as the downtown. the city is dead after work and on weekends.

  10. Oakland Coliseum is a great place to tailgate. Major parties are ongoing during game time. Sometimes I think there are more people in the parking lot than in the coliseum.

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