Parking Madness Final Four: Lansing vs Philadelphia

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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.

Lansing

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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.

Philadelphia

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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.

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