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Can We Learn Something From the New Cowboys Stadium?

Following up on something we wrote about a couple of weeks ago -- the absurd lack of public transportation options for fans heading to the flashy new Dallas Cowboys Stadium -- we have a post from Streetsblog Network member Extraordinary Observations:

3238910401_5e87c56c02.jpgPhoto by K. Muncie via Flickr.
The parking situation disaster at Cowboys Stadium that I wrote about last week is actually teaching some valuable real-world lessons about design and transportation. Here's the thing.. it's become such an expectation in Texas that parking be "free" everywhere (by free, of course I mean subsidized by someone else) that charging drivers directly for the privilege is seen as some sort of earth-shattering outrage. Take a look at this whiny and obnoxious piece from Drew Magary of NBC-DFW:

Parking. It’s one of those secret, forgot-you-were-going-to-have-to-pay-it-until-you-have-to-pay-it expenses that slowly drains your will to live and often keeps you from venturing outside of your house and into the greater world at large. I particularly despise parking because it comes at the end of your journey, when you have, in theory, arrived at your destination. Only you haven’t. You gotta find a spot, and you gotta pay dearly for it. And if you’re going to see the Cowboys this fall, you’re really going to pay dearly for it.

[There are] 115,000 potential people in place, at a stadium that has precisely 12,000 spaces on site, all of which cost up to $75 each. There are an additional 18,000 spots within a mile of the new digs, also costing between $50 and $75... You could carpool, but that’s for dirty treehuggers.

I imagine that this author might balk at the idea of public transit providing service to the new stadium. It's hard for anyone who would never use it to see any value. But there is value, potentially incredible value, both to those who would use the service and those who still prefer to drive and park. If a fraction of the Cowboy's fans took transit from Dallas to Cowboys games, that could shift the demand curve for parking spaces to the left (by how much I'm not positive), making life better (read: cheaper) for those who wish to drive and park. But they can't -- Dallas cannot provide any transit options thanks to local politics.

There are lessons here, for sure. But it remains to be seen if the parking crunch will move any of the voters of Arlington, Texas, a city of 350,000 people where the stadium is located, to reconsider their oft-expressed resistance to public transit. (You never know who might ride that stuff, after all.) Or how many Cowboys fans, stuck in traffic and paying through the nose for a place to park, might come around to the idea that carpooling isn't so bad -- even if it is something usually engaged in by "dirty tree-huggers."

Don't hold your breath, though.

More from the network: Bike PGH has a nifty table showing how Pittsburgh and other U.S. cities stack up in the bike commuting department. The Transport Politic looks at the issues raised by a planned transit link between El Paso and Juárez. And Hard Drive reports on plummeting pickup sales.