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Thursday, December 25, 2014  |   Madison, WI: 34.0° F  
CITIZEN DAVE: Thoughts and ideas about city building from Madison's former mayor
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Citizen Dave: Parking should be expensive, but not at Miller Park
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Surface lots surround Miller Park.
Surface lots surround Miller Park.

Thursday's epic battle between the 32-44 Chicago Cubs and the 32-44 Milwaukee Brewers was a "marquee" game.

In this case, marquee is a designation that the Brewers give games for which they think they can get away with charging more money. Tickets generally cost more and, it turns out, so does parking.

When we pulled into the lot at Miller Park, I arrived already resigned to paying $18 for parking. Howver, it turned out that in order to park my car at the stadium for a game where I would have the privilege of witnessing a fight for sole possession of last place in the National League Central, it would cost me $25. After all, it was a marquee game.

Now, let me be clear. I believe in expensive parking. I have never seen a great city that had cheap and ample parking. Show me parking hell and I'll show you urban heaven. New York, Boston, San Francisco, Paris, Amsterdam -- all great cities where parking will cost you an arm and a leg, if you can find it at all.

I have long believed that the city of Madison should charge three times as much for parking in city ramps for Overture events. Can anybody explain why we gladly fork over $15 to park around Camp Randall for a football game, but we cannot pay more than five bucks to go see Les Mis?

Cheap parking is not in the constitution. It is not a birthright as an American. Really, it's not.

But I feel justified in my outrage at being soaked at Miller Park for two reasons. First, it doesn't accomplish any goal of urbanity. The reason that scarce and expensive parking is good for cities is that it creates interesting places to walk in. Parking lots are dead spaces that kill cities. But Miller Park is surrounded by a wasteland of parking and ribbons of highways. It should never have been built there in the first place. It should be in downtown Milwaukee. It was outrageous that Bud Selig got away with using taxpayer money to build his stadium in a place that does nothing to stimulate growth and urbanism in the city.

Second, I object to the marquee parking fee because it just goes into the Brewers' owner Mark Attanasio's profit margin. It supports no public cause. If we charged what we should charge for parking at Overture events, the extra revenue could go for the upkeep of that public arts center.

So, as a rule, in the interests of creating better urban spaces, I want it to be hard to find parking and I want it to be painful to pay for it. But the Miller Park lot is the worst of both worlds: high prices for nothing.

And, by the way, the marquee match-up saw the Brewers grab the cellar all for themselves. It didn't make me feel any better about that 25 bucks unless Attanasio takes it and buys some decent starting pitching.

Have a good weekend.

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