Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Addressing Crew Stadium Problems

Unlike most Columbus residents, my home team is not the OSU Buckeyes... it's the Columbus Crew. I've mentioned before that I've biked to Crew games with mixed results. I've never had any problems with traffic and getting into the stadium - I think that most folks realize I'm not holding them up since I enter through a different access point to the parking lot, and I don't park in a parking space. I'm sure there are some who are rankled by my ability to do so, but that's their own fault for driving instead of cycling.

To my point, though: the General Manager of the Columbus Crew, Mark McCullers, was interviewed by the Columbus Dispatch about the status of Crew Stadium and the need for improvements. The major improvements he mentioned were all about the parking situation at the stadium, naturally.

If you've never been to Crew Stadium (shame on you! ;) ), here's the situation: Crew Stadium's parking lots are two-fold: the VIP lot, which is close to the stadium and nicely paved; and the regular lot, which is basically a big dirt field. Until the past couple years I'd always parked in the regular lot. But I always arrived early to games to either tailgate or to do work with the team's website (I was a feature writer and programmer for the website for several years), so I was able to pick my parking spot pretty easily. Having seen some of the spaces in the lot after rainy days, it can be hard to get in and out of the lot or tailgate there (and tailgating before sporting events is very big in a college football town like Columbus) without becoming a muddy mess.

Though a VIP parking pass isn't that expensive when you look at coming to around 16-18 games a season, they are limited in quantity and many folks in Columbus think it's ridiculous to have to pay for parking anywhere (too much car culture). So the Crew is actually losing fans because of the parking situation.

Though it's not going to be THE answer, I've asked the Crew on two occasions now to install bike racks. After reading today's article, I suggested their installation as well as creating some sort of bicyclist promotion to get people to try to ride their bikes in more often. If people know that bike racks are an option at the stadium and they'd be rewarded for using the racks for their bikes, they might be more inclined to use them. And putting them close enough to the front gate would help discourage thieves.

More bicycles would mean fewer cars, which is always a good thing. And though it won't solve the problem of poor parking lots, it could certainly help.

11 comments:

  1. They would also have to relocate the stadium somewhere that is acceptable for most people to take their families to, especially if by bike.

    I don't go to Crew games for the same reason I don't go to Clippers games or go shopping at City Center.

    Once the new baseball stadium opens though, I'll probably be cruising down there on my bike all the time. I'd definitely go to soccer games too if the stadium weren't in such an awful location. I can't imagine what our international visitors must think of Columbus when they see it.

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  2. What's wrong with the location of Crew Stadium? It's centrally located and easily accessible from both the expressway and surface streets. Plenty of families come to Crew games all the time - in fact, crowds seem to be made up mostly of families.

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  3. I have been to two games at Crew Stadium and didn't notice anything dangerous or scarey. Both were international matches (US/Mexico, US/Costa Rica).

    I didn't know there were other professional teams in Columbus. The Buckeyes and Clippers? But there are lots of fringe teams and sports around here also like the Boston Lobsters, and Wareham Gatemen.

    I don't know if biking would ever catch on for sporting events. I have been to games in Europe and don't recall seeing any bikes, even in bike fanatic Amsterdam.

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  4. That comment threw me for a bit of a loop, as you can probably tell. The only scary thing I can really remember from going to Crew games is when the Ultra Polskas from Chicago came to town...

    We have a few other pro teams in Columbus - the Blue Jackets (NHL); the Buckeyes (Big "We Can't Count" football) - and I say that only partly tongue-in-cheek; the Clippers (AAA Baseball - KC affiliate); the Destroyers (Arena Football); and we've also had a couple of minor league hockey and soccer teams as well as the old ABL Champions before those teams/leagues went under. There's talk of moving an NBA team here, too...

    I'm not sure about the viability of trying to get folks to bike to games, either... alcohol consumption at games is a normal occurrence and I'm not sure that jibes well with cycling. But there are also a lot of pre-drinking age teens that come and they seem to me to be possible cyclists. And I've no problem with cycling and not drinking at games, particularly because they mostly only serve Bud products at games...

    Still, I think it's worth a try.

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  5. i got here from the consider biking site. i really enjoy your blog and just moved to clintonville. we were excited by being close to the stadium and biking there for games. thanks for your insight.

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  6. Welcome, Laura! Glad you could join us over here.

    I'm happy to say that Crew Stadium's staff has gotten back to me about putting bike racks into place... they say they are looking at ways to accommodate cyclists with bike racks outside the gates, hopefully within sight of the tickets windows and security so that they'll be more protected during games. I don't know if anything will come of it, but if I hear more I'll let you know.

    BTW - here's my Bikely Route to Crew Stadium... it reduces the amount of time you have to spend on Hudson and Indianola, the busiest streets. I also recommend going at least an hour early to avoid the worst of the traffic.

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  7. well, for me personally, it's not a place i'd choose to go unless i had to. i grew up in hilliard and live in grandview and have friends & family that live all around other suburbs. i can tell you that a good number of us suburban folk don't find the state fairgrounds or anywhere else in the majority of the city of columbus an appealing place to go visit.

    sure, call me sheltered or ignorant or anything else, but that's the way it goes.

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  8. check it!

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/07/27/bike-parking-on-steroids/

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  9. I looked for bicycle racks while entering and leaving the game two weeks ago and saw none. I can't find any evidence that the situation has improved. I plan to park on the street and walk a mile or two, but I'd like the option of biking in from home or campus.

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  10. If you bike there regularly but there are no racks, where have you been locking your bike?

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    1. Matthew, this post was written several years ago and my situation has changed pretty significantly, but when I was going to games more often I'd just chain my bike to the fence surrounding the stadium. And the last time I did it, I was hardly the only person. There were quite a few out there the last time I biked there.

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