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Patrons soon might need to bring along some extra cash for parking at big events at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio wants to increase parking fees in city garages and lots from a maximum of $12 to $30 for some events at the arena. Much of that extra money will go to the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, which makes its home at the Times Forum.
“This does provide the potential for more revenue going to the Lightning,” said Darrell Smith, Iorio’s chief of staff.
The current rates at city parking facilities, in place since 2003, allow a range of $5 to $12 for Times Forum events. The new rates would allow $2 to $30, though details were not immediately available Tuesday on which events would carry the biggest price tag.
“It’s very realistic. It’s all based on what the market will bear rather than arbitrary rates that really are not competitive,” Smith said, noting that private lots sometimes charge much more than $12 for parking at popular events.
Still, he said, it shouldn’t cost $30 to park on city property for every occasion. And lowering the minimum parking fee will allow cheaper rates for charitable and community events.
The plan still must go before the Tampa City Council.
Lightning officials have been trying for years to get Iorio to give them a larger share of parking revenue generated by events at the Times Forum. Iorio previously balked at the idea, but in April she began discussing options with the team.
The Lightning now gets a cut of parking money only if it tops $750,000 per year, which is the city’s annual debt payment for a parking garage built next to the Times Forum.
“We’ve been working with the Lightning to examine ways we could increase revenue for the Lightning without decreasing the revenues available for the parking system,” Smith said. “It’s an over and above kind of thing.”
For more details, see Wednesday’s St. Petersburg Times.