Springfield Cardinals return and fans adapt to increased parking fees nearby
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield Cardinals are back at the plate for the first time since 2019, and some fans find themselves taking longer walks to get to the ballpark.
Last week the Springfield Cardinals released a statement on how the organization was “extremely disappointed” over prices planned for two parking areas near Hammons Field. The team does not own or operate parking lots that surround the stadium.
Those lots now plan to charge $20 for parking during games this year. But marching up hills to Hammons Field to avoid increased parking fees did not seem to phase many fans on Tuesday night.
Several of those who made the trek just wanted to save some extra cash.
“We’re cheapskates,” fan Kevin Schriver laughed. “We don’t like to pay money to park our car.”
Many fans looked for free parking. Schriver and his wife did not mind walking several blocks after finding a spot.
“If I can find somewhere cheaper that’s exactly where I’m going to park,” he said. “I mean if someone wants to go spend $20 and go park close that’s their business. And if someone wants to charge $20 that’s their business and I’ll just go where it’s free.”
The lots across the way still attracted some, especially as the game drew nearer.
The Springfield Cardinals did not take to easily to the spike.
A statement from the Springbirds on Friday added: “As recently as last week the Cardinals were led to believe that the price for this season was going to be $15 for all games. While this amount is still high, the Cardinals feel the actions by Atrium Hospitality and JD Holdings to further increase rates to $20 are intentional, purposeful and hurtful to fans, once again waiting until right before the home opener to communicate this outrageous price.”
But the owners of the lots, Atrium Hospitality and JD Holdings, emailed a statement stating the price will now include a few extra benefits like access to pregame activities, a free drink and hot dog.
Those lots across the way still attracted some fans, especially as the game drew nearer.
Still some say they found convenient and cheaper parking.
“We parked over at a five dollar lot,” fan Robert Ehlke said. “We’ve been parking there actually probably three years.”
Ehlke said he did not want to pay more to park than to enter the stadium.
“Well we thought it was pretty terrible,” he said “It’s amazing when it costs more to park than the cost to go to the game.”
As a longtime St. Louis Cardinals fan, Ehlke said he is used to those higher prices though.
“We used to pay at St. Louis for the St. Louis Cardinals at $20,” he said. “Well that’s St. Louis and this is Springfield. You know, you don’t expect it to be that way.”
No matter where fans parked, they all had one thing in common -- excitement to get back to the stands.
“I’m actually just looking to the atmosphere,” Schriver said. “I mean it’s been a whole year since minor league baseball has been out. And just the atmosphere, opening day is always a good time. I think that’s the best thing about Springfield Cardinals ball.”
Ehlke also said he is excited to be back and watch the players grow.
“We really enjoy seeing the future players and then seeing them move up into the majors,” Ehlke said.
Inside the stadium there are also a few changes this season. Fans now have digital tickets and concessions are completely cashless.
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