08ParkingA consultant for the city says downtown Fayetteville parking will not be a problem when the Hay Street minor league baseball stadium opens. Jon Martens of Walker Consultants told city council that the current system is adequate “with lots of room to grow.” Marten’s firm counted just over 2,500 public parking spaces within a five-minute walk of the stadium. 

Few disagree with the consultant, from city staff to downtown realty professionals. “Forty-five years ago, there were many more businesses and half as much parking,” said realtor John Malzone. City Manager Doug Hewett noted that parking availability improves after business hours, which is when baseball games are played. 

“Peak parking occurs at 1 p.m. weekdays,” Martens said. Even then, he noted, only 45 percent of the spaces are used. 

Special events and large promotional celebrations will require parking opportunities beyond the five-minute walk parameters, Martens said. Park and ride shuttles from areas beyond the immediate center city could be adopted according to city traffic engineer Lee Jernigan. He said a more detailed report of additional considerations such as providing convenient parking for the disabled will be available in a month or two. 

The Franklin Street Parking Deck is typically underutilized. It is two-and- a-half blocks from the stadium and just within the five-minute walking distance, Jernigan said. “A short walk to the ballfield is part of the professional baseball experience,” said Mark Zarthar, Fayetteville Baseball Club president. 

Estimated game attendance will vary from 2,700 to 3,500 fans depending on who you talk to. A sold-out event would consist of 4,700 people. Jernigan said private business people and county government are being asked to make their parking lots available for ballgames. 

The owner of the Medical Arts building at the corner of Robeson Street and Hay Street has agreed to lease its parking lot to the city. City Hall, the Airborne & Special Operations Museum and NC Veterans Park lots are governed by the city and will be popular parking areas for fans. 

Making the public aware of available parking is a major challenge to be undertaken by city government. “We can use technology to provide customer information,” said City Councilman Jim Arp. 

The consulting firm suggested that an automated parking guidance system be adopted. Martens urged officials to proceed with a multifaceted plan combining new parking technology and an informational campaign showing where parking spaces are available downtown, including promoting the Franklin Street Parking Deck. Lighted LED signs with colorful, bright, moving messages would attract customers. Smaller permanent, custom signs could direct motorists to clusters of inner-city parking availability. 

The new ballpark is being built at a cost of nearly $38 million. Features will include a 360-degree concourse, a grand stand and casual outdoor dining areas for group gatherings and parties. Zarthar said at least three firms have indicated interest in stadium signature naming rights. 

The name of the Advance Single-A team owned by the Houston Astros will be announced early next month. 

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