Tuesday, July 31, 2007

That Whole Arena Thing

Where will I park? Won't it be too congested downtown? Is that really the best location for such a venue?

Before the city throws an approximately $300 million project on our ballots in the fall (or spring), the officials really need to begin to address the issues that the voting, and paying, public are going to have with the project.

Anytime a project is proposed anywhere in this city, the first question that arises is always, "Will there be enough parking?" It's like a knee jerk reaction - or a violent, unnecessary heave if you will. What people don't know is the cost associated with the ability to have a parking spot for each and every individuals pretty little automobile or big-ass, over sized, under-used, impeccable truck. A single space in a parking garage will run in the realm of $15,000 dollars per space. I won't defend my number but I will say this is a decent average number. That's a lot of money for space that will sit empty most of the time. Let's say the center had an event every night, the space would still sit empty for 20 hours a day. Add that price tag to the potential revenue lost by not developing that parking garage into inhabited space, whether that be office, residential or retail, and you're talking major dollars to subsidize something that could be making money for the entire city.

Between the Convention Center, Civic Plaza, the new garage on 2nd and the Acropolis on 3rd and Copper, you've got over 2,000 spaces and each within two blocks of the arena. Add in the street parking in the vicinity and the lot on the east side of the tracks, we're probably near 4,000 spaces. 4,000 cars with 4 people per car gives you a full arena, 16,000 people. Take some of those people and put them on trains and busses or even, (hold your breath for this one), walking and biking, and you can see that there is hardly a need for a whole lot of parking.

"But what about the congestion?" Seeing as downtown already handles 25,000 employees daily with ease, events at the center should be a walk in the park. Don't get me wrong, it's like as "convenient" as walking two acres of parking spaces like at your local Wal-Mart, but it's still hardly an issue.

Regarding the arenas exterior design, I've found my favorite rendering; this one for a new arena in Seattle as they scratch and claw to keep their Sonics.

On the interior, I'm fairly sure we'll see the U-shape configuration that allows for future expansion without a need for extra land. As you can see in the photo of Omaha's Quest Center, one end of the arena has only a lower bowl seating area.

I've got my fingers crossed that we'll see some renderings come out of Garfield Traub in the near future. I don't have solid information regarding the architect involved with the selected team but I'm assuming HOK is involved. I've also heard rumors that Bart Prince might be involved as well. I'll always take Tony Predock, too.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your view on parking. It is costly, a waste of space, and in an area like downtown, which is well served by mass transit, a message to people that their cars will always be provided for, and no matter what the externalities they force everyone else to pay for. A good alternative, if people must drive, is to drive to the park and ride lot closest to them, for either the railrunner or rapid ride, and avoid congestion or the need for more parking in the downtown area, which has plenty.

The arena though, much like an accompanying parking garage, will remain empty the majority of the time. Are publicly financed arenas really in the best interest of the taxpayers, or merely the developers? As a means of revitalization, arenas are grossly exaggerated and are being increasingly scrutinized as to their specific affect in the process. I think Albuquerque should look at whether we should invest in one at all, not merely if there will be enough parking.

mid said...

Certainly park and ride is the way to go... The upside (other than not having to build parking) is that forcing people to use transit might just get it out of their heads that it's only for poor people and maybe they'll start using it when they don't have to.

Anonymous said...

I guess more to the point: why do governments extol the benefits of public transportation, yet at the same time fund road improvement projects that minimize transit's effectiveness? Take I-25 between Tramway and US 550. It is going to be widened to 3 lanes in each direction soon, but the railrunner already serves that corridor. How can you expect more people to take the train when you continue to accommodate their vehicles and show no signs of letting up in the future?

I'm not against road improvement in general, but it is extremely biased to serving single occupancy vehicles- the least efficient mode of travel. Yes, I know about providing choices, but when you limit the choices so severely as to almost force people into vehicle ownership, debt, time wasting congestion, and unhealthy lifestyles that this misnomer called freedom of choice spawns, whose life is this making better? I think the government has failed on many levels, because in yielding our transportation options almost exclusively to the private auto, everyone’s quality of life suffers.

Anonymous said...

Safety is always a major factor. That stretch of I-25 moves over 150K vehicles per day. We can't just wait for everyone to start taking the train to alleviate congestion and safety issues to go away. Despite the Rail Runner, that number is project to grow significantly in the next 10 years. The Rail Runner will help and offer another commute option, but is not the sole answer. Other cities that have major transit systems are not a replacement for the highway system. They work together.

Anonymous said...

I think it's great thy're widening that strecth. And eventualy all the way to sf.

Philly said...

If we continue to plan your city around the Motor Vehicle, then we have to be prepared for what comes.

Not having enough parking for the new Arena is a GOOD thing! It forces people to get off their fat a$$e$, and walk, and use public transportation. Can you imagine the foot traffic that all the business would see?

But if it were up to some in this city, we will continue to sprawl over the mesa and disconnect from eachother even more. Planning around public transit is so crucial for the city that IMO is looking at a boom, including the metro.

NM roads also need work, especially for all the increasing traffic. I'm all for it, but it is so crucial to make DT ABQ a destination without the car. We need to start THERE!

Hopefully people in the great city will realize that one day.