You can pay $30 to park in lots near the Metrodome for pre-season games, but a few cheapskates knew of much cheaper parking along S. 3rd St. between 10th and 12th Avenues, along the Valspar Paint buildings.
That's in the past now. On Friday, the city changed the cheap meters from 25 cents an hour to $3 an hour (10 hour maximum). On the positive side, it's still cheaper than paying $30 to park in a lot (even more than $30 for a high profile game). Also, the coin meters have been replaced by the smart meters that take Visa and Mastercard. Now you won't have to worry about running out of quarters to feed the meter.
Ray Crump Jr. from Dome Souvenirs Plus knows the parking situation in the area. He sent this map that details the cheapest parking zones are in the downtown, Uptown and Cedar Riverside areas. Note, however, that the pink zones (25 cents an hour) near the Dome on 3rd St. are not a quarter an hour as indicated on the map during special events such as Vikings games. The good news? If you're parking in the area during a non-special-event time, the price is still a quarter per hour. Apparently, the city waves a wand to jack up the price when Vikings fans are near and waves it again when they're gone.
Meanwhile, I'll keep looking for alternate parking areas for Dome patrons who aren't willing to pay $30 or more to park. Share if you know of any.