Anytime a downtown venue is built, parking becomes an issue. That was no different for Orlando City, which opened its new stadium in Parramore for the 2017 MLS season. The availability of parking passes had made the process easier for many of the attendees of games over the past three years. However, parking could create difficulties for fans this season.
During Orlando City’s USL era at the Citrus Bowl, usual attendances of fewer than 10,000 at the 70,000-seat stadium allowed for light traffic on game days. Parking near the stadium was easy, even without reserved spots. When the team entered MLS in 2015, the club partnered with the city of Orlando to offer parking passes, ensuring season ticket holders got parking near the stadium. This allowed those attending every game to have easy parking and avoid the task of searching for a spot.
After relatively easy parking at a stadium built for American football, which featured a plethora of grass lots close by and far more fans than Orlando City normally attracts, the club moved closer to downtown for the 2017 season. Last year, the club sold parking passes for city-owned lots near the stadium. That ended this year with the club no longer selling parking passes on behalf of the city.
The lack of reserved parking could create headaches for the over 18,000 season ticket holders who attend each game. There are several parking areas near the stadium, such as the Geico Garage across from the Amway Center, but parking may still be difficult to find on game day without a reservation. Many fans may be left to park on the front yards of local residents selling space to the large crowds.
The Amway Center, home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, previously had a pair of city-owned parking garages flanking the arena. But, its decision to build a new entertainment complex on Church Street forced the removal of one of the parking garages, limiting parking further around the area that Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has long planned to be downtown’s sports and entertainment corridor.
While there are opportunities for fans to purchase parking passes around the stadium through other avenues, as well as take public transportation, this new development will almost certainly create headaches for some of the 25,527 fans who attend each Orlando City home game.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first troublesome issue Orlando City fans have dealt with regarding the new stadium. Long lines and cramped concourses have been a common complaint among those attending games. While the club merely sells parking passes on behalf of the city, it’s another aspect adding to what is becoming a long list of issues at the otherwise beautiful downtown stadium.
Due to the lack of prepaid spaces, resulting in fewer visitors knowing their destination, the club has advised fans to arrive earlier at games to avoid missing kickoff. In addition to creating more traffic congestion downtown, this is a difficult blow for the lifeblood of the club, the season ticket holders, who often prefer to have a reserved spot for each game.