It seems pretty obvious once you do the math. Minneapolis officials estimate the downtown area has 375,000 vehicle trips on an average weekday when the Super Bowl isn’t in town. Add to that number the 1-million plus visits expected at NFL-themed events around town in the 10 days leading up to the game, and parking may become something of an issue.
But local officials say there’s no need for worry. Many people, they figure, will rely on public transportation or use a ride-sharing app like Uber and Lyft.
And with thousands of car spaces downtown, there should be enough parking to go around, officials say.
Still, any time you crowd that many people into a cramped urban area, some motorists are likely to get squeezed out, said Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
“I think parking is going to be a premium during that 10-day period,” Cramer said.
The city said this week that the NFL will take over eight city-owned ramps on Super Bowl Sunday. Contract parkers will not be allowed.
Adding to the parking pinch, Hennepin County, which operates the 350-space government center ramp only four blocks from the stadium, will keep it closed, as it normally does on weekends.
The county’s Target Field Station and the Central Library lot will offer $15 flat rates on evenings during Super Bowl Live, the 10-day outdoor extravaganza featuring free concerts, food trucks and activities.
Hennepin County Administrator David Hough said that he doesn’t anticipate any serious problems at the county’s three downtown ramps in the week before the game “unless everybody else in the downtown is closed for parking, and they’re sending them our way.”
Weather is also a factor in how many people decide to drive downtown.
Minneapolis officials said an estimated 65,000 spots will be available to visitors, of which roughly 4,000 are city-owned metered spaces and about 40,000 are in privately owned ramps and lots. No estimates were available for how many more cars, trucks and SUVs will be around for the game.
Sensing the potential parking shortage, some downtown businesses have given workers the option of working from home during Super Bowl week.
The Host Committee said there will be plenty of parking, but some visitors heading downtown may have to choose from a “number of transportation options ranging from Metro Transit, to park-and-rides, to ride shares.”
“We have worked closely with city and parking operators that have a lot of experience with large events and we are confident in our ability to meet the transportation demands for those heading downtown during the 10-day festival,” spokesman Michael Howard said in a statement.
But some motorists may prefer the convenience of driving their own cars to the game and parking nearby, rather than trekking down to the Depot, the pickup point for Uber rides.
The NFL has a parking app that allows visitors to reserve parking spots beginning Monday. It will make about 1,200 reserved parking spaces scattered around downtown available during Super Bowl Live. Gameday parking can be reserved separately for $100 at ramps near the stadium down to $25 for warehouse district ramps.
With the downtown area losing surface lots in recent years due to development, drivers have had to get creative, Cramer said. It’s difficult to predict how many people will choose to drive downtown for the game or one of the dozens of sponsored events, like NFL Live, which will be held daily on Nicollet Mall beginning the weekend before the game.
Even so, he said, downtowners have had plenty of time to look for alternatives.
“I’m certainly not aware of anybody’s parking contract that is being overridden for the Super Bowl,” he said in a phone interview on Thursday. “I do think a lot of folks coming to the Super Bowl are going to be transit users or are going to be staying downtown.”
Metro Transit estimates ridership could swell by 100,000 on Metro Transit buses and light-rail trains during the lead-up to the game.
Traffic Control will have extra agents out during Super Bowl week, scouring the streets for illegally parked vehicles, according to city officials.
Drivers can pay $2 an hour to park at meters around the Convention Center, which is hosting the NFL’s Super Bowl Experience, and a $25 flat rate near U.S. Bank Stadium.
A spokeswoman for Allied Parking, which according to its website operates 11 ramps in the downtown area, declined to comment on Thursday, saying that they were “too busy right now.”
Impark, which has several lots downtown, did not respond to an interview request.
But monthly parkers at its surface lot at 9th Street and 5th Avenue received a letter this week that they can’t park there on Super Bowl Sunday. Violators will be towed. But monthly parking charges will be prorated by a day to make up for the inconvenience.