PARKING LOT DISPUTE: Operator of parking lots around Hammons Field says pricing hike wrong

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The dispute over pricing hikes for parking around Hammons Field takes a new twist.

The Springfield Cardinals announced Tuesday in a statement that prices for parking in the lot across from Hammons Field and the parking garage across from Jordan Valley Park would rise from $5-$10 a game to $10-$20 a game. The news sparked concern from fans.

Shortly after the news broke Tuesday, KY3 News contacted Plaza Realty, the operator of the lots, for a statement about the price hike for the upcoming season. The company waited to respond until Wednesday afternoon. It released this statement.

“The reported $20 fee for parking at the Hammons Field parking lot was inaccurately stated in the news media. Hammons Field parking will be increased from $10 to $14 a game. The Springfield Cardinals were offered the opportunity to license 400 parking spaces at the Hammons Field parking lot and could have set its own parking rate for its fans, but the Springfield Cardinals declined the offer.”

The Springfield Cardinals organization found out about the rise in parking prices in mid-March. It then searched for a quick solution. General Manager Dan Reiter responded to the latest statement from Plaza Realty, saying "If they are choosing to charge less, than we are happy for our fans."

The Springfield Cardinals released this statement to KY3 Wednesday:

"Pursuant to the terms of our lease at Hammons Field, the Springfield Cardinals have the option to license from the Landlord, at such price reasonably established by the Landlord and communicated to us at least 90 days before the baseball season, up to 400 parking spaces. In or about early March, we heard that Landlord and certain of its affiliates that control parking in the surrounding area (i.e. via Atrium Hospitality, Plaza Realty and JD Holdings) had been discussing plans to charge $20 per space/car for parking to our fans this upcoming season.

On March 13, we notified the Landlord of its breach of the terms of our lease by failing to provide us with the right to license these 400 spaces at a reasonable price by the required deadline, and we requested the Landlord to promptly provide us with reasonable pricing so that we might possibly exercise our option to license such parking spaces (so that we might be able to pass along reasonably priced parking to our fans). Nine days ago, on April 1, the Landlord offered to license to us 400 parking spaces for a prepaid upfront total fee of $420,000, thereby guaranteeing Landlord a rate of $15 per space for all of these 400 spaces for all of our home games. We declined this offer and informed the Landlord and its legal counsel that their proposed pricing and terms were outrageous, lacking in good faith and constituted a breach of our lease agreement.

Just yesterday, the General Counsel for Atrium Hospitality (based in New York City), on behalf of the Landlord, JD Holdings and their affiliates including Plaza Realty, reiterated this same outrageous and bad faith offer that was made to us on April 1. He also indicated to us in his letter yesterday that, after considering our concerns about their previously proposed $20 rate to be charged to our fans, they decided to reduce their rates to $15 per space to be charged to our fans (i.e, the same rate they were asking us to guarantee for all of the spaces for all of our home games). Earlier today, we again declined their offer.

Now, we understand that they intend to charge our fans at a rate of $14 per space (for now). While we are glad that they have continued to reduce their proposed parking rate, we still believe that the $14 per space is unreasonable, and we believe that the Landlord has breached its obligations under our lease and that the Landlord and its affiliates have not acted in good faith in connection with its dealings with the Springfield Cardinals, our community, and our fans.

We will continue to seek reasonable parking alternatives and solutions for our fans in order to keep the experience of attending our Springfield Cardinals games affordable for the families of our community, and we very much appreciate the understanding, patience and support of our great fans as we do so."

This is the original statement released to KY3 by the Springfield Cardinals Tuesday:

"The Cardinals have been made aware of upcoming changes to parking prices at two nearby public parking areas owned by JD Holdings LLC and operated by Plaza Realty & Management Services.

The Springfield Cardinals have been made aware of upcoming changes to parking prices at two nearby public parking areas. These include one paid parking lot and one garage near Hammons Field, both of which the Cardinals do not own, manage or lease.

In late March, the Springfield Cardinals leadership team was disappointed to learn of price increases to begin this season and has begun discussions with the parking lot and garage owner. The team is also exploring alternative options for fans.

The parking areas impacted include the lot south of the stadium between Trafficway and St. Louis Street and the parking garage southwest of the stadium near the Expo Center. Both are owned by JD Holdings LLC and locally operated by Plaza Realty & Management Services.

Last season, the company offered parking prices ranging between $5-10; however, representatives for the company notified the Springfield Cardinals those rates will increase to $20 per vehicle in 2019.

For fans seeking an alternative to parking near Hammons Field, rideshare programs are available from carGO, Uber and Lyft. CarGO is offering first-time riders a discount with the promo code "gocards."

The Springfield Cardinals will continue to investigate the price increase. Fans with questions and comments about the changes should contact the parking company directly, as the Cardinals do not own, manage, or lease the nearby parking areas."

The Springfield Cardinals will play its home opener Thursday.