Free of charge: How venues can help guests get to events

We’ve written about how stadium and venue traffic can lead to a tainted guest experience. How can you enjoy the game when all you can think about is what a nightmare it’ll be to get home? While it seems to have become an inevitability, there are ways for venues to provide relief. How? By providing free transit for event-goers.

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Stadiums and venues can encourage fans to use alternative methods of travel by paying the cost of their transit. This concept is called transit validation. A major deterrent for choosing public transit is that riders don’t know which pass to purchase or how much money they’ll need. By covering the cost, guests would be able to ride with one less pain point.

Go team go

Transit validation isn’t a widely spread concept at the moment, but there are several current and future organizations pioneering helping guests get to and from the stadium with ease.

Seattle is known for its TDM efforts and major efforts to lower the drive-alone commute rate. Now, NHL Seattle is joining the fight. Before even announcing its team name, the organization announced free transit passes for game-day guests. Starting the process 18 months before the team’s first game means guests can already plan their commutes.

The Golden State Warriors are another professional sports organization making headlines for the same efforts. When the new Chase Center opened in fall 2019, there was a heavy emphasis on transit for game-day guests and staff. The arena is fitted with approximately 18,000 seats and only 900 parking spots total, for guests and staff.

To ease any concerns from car-loving fans, the organization took preemptive measures with transit bundling. They partnered with almost every local agency and made major accommodations for cyclists and scooters – like valet bike parking – to ensure guests wouldn’t miss their cars.

The Warriors’ efforts were spearheaded by the team’s president and COO, Rick Welts. Welts implemented similar strategies during his tenure as president and CEO of the Phoenix Suns. Even with fewer transit resources, Welts and the Suns partnered with Valley Metro to offer guests free game-day rides on the city’s light rail. This move made the Suns the first professional sports organization to offer free transit for game-day guests.

All hail

Most cities and towns in the country don’t have robust transit systems, which means getting guests to smaller venues or arenas can be tricky. Luckily, in this age of technology, there are workarounds and fixes where transit may be lacking.

Lyft and Uber provide event packages to fill in transit gaps. Uber events or Lyft events allow venues and hosts to create promo codes for discounted or free rides for guests. Thousands of guests might require more action, but venues in more suburban areas can benefit from these features.

To decrease the number of vehicles and avoid congestion, companies like Rally buses can move more people with fewer vehicles. Rally allows users to set up rally points where users can reserve their spot on a bus going to the same event.

For venues, arenas, and stadiums, going a step further and partnering with these companies can mean a lot to fans. The fan experience starts when they leave for an event, not when they arrive. If fans have a tough time getting there, those feelings will be associated with the event as a whole.

Micromobility friendly

Public transit and ridehailing are viable options for guests coming from further away. Designing stadiums and venues to be micromobility-friendly gives even more flexibility – especially for local fans. A major stressor for cyclists is their bike’s security when they’re not with it. Nationals Park in Washington, DC, has valet bicycle parking during games. In cities where scooters and bicycles are preferred methods of transportation, it’s important to have proper accommodations.

Other notable organizations

University of Utah: The school and Utah Transit Authority partner to offer free, all-day rides with a sporting event ticket.

Minnesota Wild: The team offers free rides on Metro Transit buses and trains for every Saturday home game – called “The Wild Ride.”

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