Joe Blundo, So To Speak: Crew and Clippers playing at home? Good luck with parking

Joe Blundo
Special to The Columbus Dispatch
The Arena District growth along Spring Street includes Huntington Park and Nationwide Arena, as seen on June 22, 2021. Flying a drone near baseball fields and stadiums with fewer than 30,000 seats is permissible under FAA regulations. But don't fly two hours prior or one hour after Ohio Stadium football games

I was in that great mass of circulating humanity that searched for a parking place during the historic Columbus Clippers/Columbus Crew convergence on July 21.

It was not my intent to test the Arena District’s ability to absorb two stadiums-worth of traffic for the first time.

But having done it — and knowing that the city’s baseball and soccer teams will also have simultaneous home games on Wednesday and Saturday (Aug. 7) — I thought I’d offer some observations.

Expect to walk: Driving to and parking near new Crew stadium a whole new ballgame

First, yes, it was a hassle, but let’s not overstate the case. I missed a half-inning of a baseball game and had to pay $10 to park instead of $5. That’s not exactly an existential crisis.

If I’d done any research beyond checking the Clippers’ schedule, I’d have stumbled on numerous warnings that, with the Crew having just opened a new stadium and the Clippers drawing mid-summer crowds, fans needed to get to the Arena District early.

But I went in ignorant.

Columnist Joe Blundo

Based on past experience, we arrived in the Arena District just before 6:30, thinking that was plenty of time to make it to a 7:05 baseball game. Then we discovered that not only was our favored surface lot, south of the stadium, charging $25 instead of $5 but also that it was full.

More Joe Blundo: Travelers may want to avoid Ohio's unvaccinated

We crept around the block twice, past lot after full lot, before asking a police officer if he knew of any parking. “Go north on Neil Avenue,” he said.

That proved good advice and a test of patience because we ended up in a long line for the McConnell Garage, which cost us what suddenly seemed like the bargain price of $10. Also, it’s just across Neil Avenue from Huntington Park.

More Joe BlundoProject Help volunteers are hoping for an angel themselves

We were in our seats before the Clippers came up to bat in the bottom of the first. Had we been going to the 7:30 Crew game, we’d have probably made it there on time.

The Clippers actually still have one $3 parking deal at what is known as the Savko Lot (the gravel area between the two railroad bridges off Nationwide Boulevard west of Huntington Park). If you buy game tickets online, you can reserve parking there — or other lots and garages — at the same time, assuming the spots haven’t sold out. (You’ll pay a $1 service fee for the parking reservation and be told to arrive early.)

And, remember, this parking scramble only applies when teams are playing at the same time, Clippers president Ken Schnacke noted. Absent the pressure of home games virtually side by side, you’ll find easier and cheaper parking. (On Sept. 29, the Crew, the Clippers and the Columbus Blue Jackets will all have night home games — that should be interesting.)

So plan ahead. And if you still find a hassle, well, traffic jams are the price we pay for fun.

Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist.


Get more Columbus Crew news by listening to our podcasts