N. Charleston parking fee hike doesn't deter attendance, event-goers still upset

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It's been two months since parking fees increased at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center and there's still displeasure about the cost.

February 23 North Charleston City Council voted to increase the fee from $5 to $10. The original proposal called for parking to increase to $7.

Since March 1, when the fee increase took effect, there have been more than 50 events held at the two venues.

With the Coliseum's full-time tenant, the South Carolina Stingrays in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, the organization hopes more fans will come to the games. However, some fans said they have seen a change because of parking.

"When they increased it I saw the attendance started to slump a little bit," said Stingrays fan Deborah Morris.

From March 1 through May 1 the Stingrays have played 15 home games as part of their regular season and the playoff run thus far.

Two games (March 11 and April 8) had free parking, which attracted more than 12,000 people total. For the other 13 games, which came with $10 parking, the average per game was roughly 3,200 fans.

"Our average attendance throughout 25 home games before March 1 was 3,609," said Stingrays spokesman Jared Shafran.

The Stingrays finished the regular season with an average attendance of 3,734 fans with the 36 home games. This number includes all season ticket holders, whether or not they actually show up for the game.

"I'm not surprised," said Stingrays fan Kelly Astle. "$10 is a lot to spend on parking when even with the cheapest ticket, if you're not a season ticket holder for the Stingrays, is like $15."

Attendance numbers for events other than hockey games were not available.

While the Stingrays President said it's a bit too early to tell what kind of impact the parking increase has had on the organization, some fans and even concert goers are finding ways of avoiding the $10.

"I've noticed that people walk to the game and park somewhere else," Morris said.

"That's something that I know I would do," Astle added. "I've done that for other events, like some of the concerts even if the cost was $5."

Since the fee increase, a spokesman for the city of North Charleston said they've only received a small number of complaints, most coming in shortly after the increase.

However, with the sporadic schedule of playoff hockey, some fans think the cost for parking can get out of hand.

"You've got Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, so we've got three [games in one week]," Morris said. "If somebody goes to a playoff game every single night, that's $30 right there."

The city spokesman added they haven't noticed the price making a difference in attendance, however, when parking alerts are issued they do see more drop-offs and carpooling.

A request for of the amount money that's been made off of parking in the last few months was not immediately available.

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