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A Pain In The Parking Lot

05:01 PM Wednesday 3/18/09 | |

Another day, another Live Nation controversy. Don’t worry though, it’s not about the proposed merger with Ticketmaster. This time the dustup is over parking fees.

New York Daily News music critic Jim Farber raised a fuss yesterday about PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., tacking a $6 parking fee onto each ticket – whether you arrive in a car or not.

Farber went to the man on the street for some opinions on the fee and got the kind of comments you might expect.

“I passed on buying six tickets to the Def Leppard concert because I don’t want to pay six times for parking,” said Gary Kane, 39, of Brooklyn.

“I know people that drop off their kids when there’s a show like the Jonas Brothers, and then pick them up,” he noted. “Why should they have to pay on every ticket?”

Vincent Torre, 42, of Brooklyn, said he sometimes takes the bus to PNC, formerly known as the Garden State Arts Center.

“I’m already paying bus fare,” he said. “Why should I pay for parking? I think it’s disgraceful.”

So what’s up with everyone having to pay six bucks whether they park or not? Live Nation spokesman John Vlautin provided Pollstar with a statement that alleges the fee is nothing new.

We have always operated under a system at PNC Bank Arts Center where parking is charged as a per ticket fee. This policy is in place to alleviate traffic issues that would be caused by customers stopping to pay a parking fee at the lot entrance.

The charge is calculated based on our research that the average music fan comes to PNC with 2 people in their car. This fee (formerly called a facility fee) has always been in place at the venue, and in fact was lowered by 8 percent in 2007. The per-ticket charge helps to ensure that all fans can enter the venue in a timely and safe manner.

Got that? In order to make things easier for people who drive to the show and park, the venue charges everybody $6. Gee, that seems fair. And LN has actually done fans a favor by clearing up what that mysterious “facility fee” was.

Any way you cut it though, Live Nation benefits the most from this arrangement because, as Farber points out, it makes a lot of money.

Under its per-ticket parking fee scheme, a vehicle carrying three people gets charged $18 to park a single car. If six people arrive together, they pay $36.

By contrast, Nassau Coliseum charges a flat fee of $7 per car, the Meadowlands’ venues take $15, and Jones Beach doesn’t charge anything.

(Incidentally, the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater is also run by Live Nation.)

So what was the outcome of all this hubbub? Well, today Farber reported that the separate parking charge had been eliminated from Live Nation’s Web site and added into the ticket price – for a while.

When the Daily News called to ask about the sneaky switch, and why there was no real change in overall ticket prices, Live Nation suddenly reversed itself and again itemized the parking fee on its Internet purchase page.

Sounds like Farber’s stories rattled somebody in the company.

Okay, bottom line time. At the end of the day, Live Nation isn’t charging fans any more than it did last year.

But the decision to start calling the $6 charge a “parking fee” was a poorly thought out move that amounts to yet another black eye for a company that’s trying to sway public opinion in its favor.

And just a thought here: If Live Nation is really trying to decrease traffic and make things safer for fans arriving at the venue, wouldn’t it be smarter to encourage ridesharing by rewarding people who carpool by charging them lower parking fees instead of higher ones? Besides, then they could claim they’re helping the environment too.

Read Farber’s stories on the PNC parking fee here and here.


  1. dstraka wrote:

    07:48 AM, Mar 23, 2009

    Recently I checked to see what the ticket cost was of Crue Fest 2. I started with a 6 pack of lawn tickets to the Indianapolis show. I liked the fact that each ticket was $16.50. Once you get through the checkout, you see the ticket price has doubled. It breaks down like this:

    Cost of Ticket: $16.50

    Parking Fee: $5.00

    Ticket Fee: $10.10

    Road Fund: $.50

    Ticket Tax: $.50

    Final ticket price: $32.60!!!

    That's right, they just doubled the ticket price in fees. Oh, and that group of friends you're going with and likely carpooling is costing $30 to park!

    Then, just for kicks, I looked up the price of 6 pit tickets. Look what the breakdown on these are:

    Ticket cost: $95.00

    Parking Fee: $6.00

    Ticket Fee: $.50

    Road Fund: $.50

    Ticket Tax: $.50

    Total ticket cost: $118.80

    My issue here is not just the fact that they are charging high fees that have no meaning, but the imbalance of the fees.

    I would love to know why it costs $6.00 in parking costs to have pit tickets, and $5.00 to be in the lawn. What possible correlation does your seat location have to the price you pay to park???

    Additionally, what is it costing an additional $6.70 to print a pit ticket over a lawn ticket?

    This a complete scam and effect us, the everyday concert goers.  I set up a facebook group called "Concer Goers against ticketing giants."  Feel free to join.  Maybe we can change something.

  2. MikeUMA wrote:

    09:03 AM, Mar 21, 2009

    Bought a pair of Coldplay tickets at Hartford's Meadows Music Theater the other day.  It was a Live Nation gig, and I was surprised to see the $6 per ticket parking fee there too.

    In a few years, after this whole financial crisis gets settled, maybe the government will grow a spine when it comes to the ticketing industry.  Between the soon-to-be-monopoly, the secondary market, and all these fees, the average consumer is getting taken to the cleaners.  All we want to do is see a concert or sporting event once in a while.  We shouldn't need to take a out a second mortgage to do it.

  3. wildthing wrote:

    09:34 AM, Mar 20, 2009

    Hannibal, the shows that are adding the 50 cent charity fee are Coldplay for both Shoreline and Sleep Train Ampitheatre.  Found this when purchasing thru Livenation site.

  4. texas_dan wrote:

    07:10 AM, Mar 20, 2009

    One simple way to fix this is DO NOT BUY THE TICKETS.   It sucks to not support your favorite band but as long as we continue buying the tickets the fees will continue to be added.

    I myself have quit spending money on Ticketmaster and Live Nation events.  It sucks missing out on great shows and Basketball games.  But heck I figure I will soon pay of my credit cards because I'm not spending so much everymonth on concert tickets.

  5. bobo_plenty wrote:

    03:26 PM, Mar 19, 2009

    So as long as we're outraged over subsidizing parking by those who don't drive, perhaps we can charge those who take public transport to the show the actual cost to transport them? (Hint, it's 4 to 5 times the fare charged).  

  6. Hannibal_Lecter wrote:

    02:48 PM, Mar 19, 2009

    Hey Wildthing:  Which shows in No. Calif. carry that charity charge?  I tried to find out for myself but didn't have any luck.

  7. Anonymous wrote:

    02:03 PM, Mar 19, 2009

    Are you kidding, wildthing?! That's ridiculous. I think the charity you just gave to, my good fellow, is merely another way for LiveNation to make money with erroneous charges. I don't usually buy Northern California tickets so I hadn't ever seen that before, but what a deterrent.

    I just recently bought two $60 tickets to a SoCal LN festival and was charged $198.50 overall... I wonder how much of my money went to "parking fees".... Last year that venue charged a $25 parking fee when I went to this same reoccurring festival when I actually physically got to the parking lot. This is ridiculous to me and unfortunate, but for some reason I can't stop going to shows : ( and for that they will continue to charge.

  8. wildthing wrote:

    01:18 PM, Mar 19, 2009

    Jim Otey, please do a story on the charity fees that Livenation is adding onto shows.  At least in N. California venues, to which the consumer is not given the choice if they would like to contribute or decline.  We are FORCED to donate, and no clue to who I donated to.

    "Charity Fee"  are you freaking serious....  wtf . . . . . .  who are we donating to?  It is not listed as to who you are donating  on order page.  I contacted Livenation about this added fee, they stated it was the artist who chose to make the contribution, they stated some artists will list who the charity they are contributing to and sometimes they do not. Sure the charity must be their GREEDY Pockets.  I asked we should be allowed to decline a donation.  Told not an option.  I wish that this gets more coverage as it is questionable if a so called charity even receives.  It just appears that both ticketbastard and livenation are just out to RAPE the consumer anyway they can.   I HATE THEM BOTH and am ready to tell the artists that they can shove it too.  My desire to attend concerts dies more each day.   I would like to see the Greedy artists that are defending the ticketbastard/livenation mergego public and  tell their fans how we aren't paying enough for their seats, that we should be paying several hundred dollars a seat to be graced with their diva/rehab attitudes.  This must be their form of a bailout, lets just go on tour and gouge the fans.  

  9. Evster wrote:

    09:55 AM, Mar 19, 2009

    This is nothing more than a cash grab: they're maximizing the profit margin on the market-derived "face value" by forcing payment outside face value for something that should be covered by the ticket price. There is no rational excuse for this and should by all accounts be illegal. ESPECIALLY considering LN controls the venue and the ticketing (and often the artist too), they should know how much they have to charge for tickets to cover their parking expenses. In the old days when it was all parties were independent of each other, the venue simply wouldn't accept a contract that didn't cover expenses unless they wanted to go out of business, because THAT'S THE WAY THE FREE MARKET IS SUPPOSED TO WORK! I do agree that it does make sense to avoid making everyone stop to pay before parking, but the bottom line here is that it's only become an issue now because nobody can make a dime off CD sales anymore so everyone's squeezing the concert-goer for every penny and they haven't figured out yet how to do it without being perceived as disingenuous, deceptive, greedy, monopolistic fat cats.  Hmmm, perhaps because that's exactly what they are.

  10. astan51 wrote:

    08:50 AM, Mar 19, 2009

    Ok, so I just happened to buy 2 tickets to the Nine Inch Nails show in Tampa on May 9 and i had to pay an additional $6 per ticket for parking. It was not part of the ticket price. It was an additional fee on top of a $12 fee per ticket. This is crap because it’s me and a friend and we go in cabs not our own car. In the past you were given an option to buy parking at the venues not forced to. So if you don’t drive there, you take a cab, bus, or get dropped off why should you pay this junk. What’s next: restroom fees, concession fees, merch fees, clean air fees, and non-smoking fees on tickets? STOP THIS CRAP

    These companies (LN, TM,...) are just ripping music fans at every angle they can. This hurts other concerts and artists in the end. Say you find two separate shows you want to go to and have x amount of money, after the extra bs fees from 1 show now you can’t go see the other. Thus not selling a seat at the 2nd show and hurting it and the artist of it.

    Having lower flat rate prices valued by the location of the seat section is very important and should be the goal of these companies. The more people that can go to a show means more to everyone involved in the end. The fans get more; the venues sell more, artist play in front of more.

    i used to like LN  and hated TM but in the last year they have took LN to the ground. So now I can care less for either of them. I also lately have been very against the merger. LN is not going to make TM a better company since it itself is a horrible company. And what ever happened to LN's supposed chose a seat ticketing system? Did they abandon that because it would prove that they are also passing tickets to re-sellers?

    SAD SAD DAY and I should be happy I get to go see a favorite band NIN.

  11. evilrob wrote:

    07:59 AM, Mar 19, 2009

    For the outrageous ticket pricing LN's already starting to show for some shows since the hearings and their claims of "being able to reduce pricing on concerts", LN's sure showing us that they're full of lies as usual. They're double dipping the pot in some instances, where they sell premiere parking at the venue, and charge for that ON TOP OF the per ticket parking fees. In some places it's actually illegal to charge twice for performing a service once. *gasp*

  12. fnLEE wrote:

    06:27 AM, Mar 19, 2009

    My tombstone will read: HE WAS "FEE'D" TO DEATH

Artists Mentioned in this article