Opinion

Improved parking at Cheney Stadium would help fans, attendance

In regards to the problem of Tacoma Rainiers’ fans having to risk life and limb while crossing South 19th Street on their way to Cheney Stadium (TNT, 5-27), I would add a few thoughts.

As a frequent spectator at Cheney Stadium over the years, I’ve observed that the problem originates from inadequate on-site parking opportunities available to fans. Adding to this problem of limited parking is the traffic congestion created at 19th Street and Clay Huntington Way, which begins building at least 45 minutes before the start of well-attended games. This congestion discourages some fans from seeking entrance to on-site parking even when parking spots might still available.

I believe it is these factors, even more than the $5 parking fee, which cause fans to seek other parking locations farther from the stadium.

I don’t have the answer to the lack of adequate, on-site parking and traffic congestion at the approach to the stadium off of South 19th. But it’s obvious that there’s a problem, because on those evenings when actual “in-house” attendance approaches 4,000, people begin looking for alternative parking opportunities. Many of them enter the ball park after the game has begun as a result.

As well-attended as Rainier games have been in recent years, I am convinced that even more fans would be attracted to Triple-A baseball at Cheney Stadium, especially seniors, if the parking situation could be improved. Certainly the price is right, relative to major-league ticket prices and relative to the cost of transportation to games in Seattle.

Games are played in a beautiful minor league facility, and management works hard to make an evening at the ballpark a special event. Additionally, the quality of baseball played at Cheney Stadium on any given night differs very little from that played at Safeco Field in Seattle.

It would seem that a solution to the parking limitations at Cheney Stadium is the key to eliminating the risk to baseball fans of crossing busy 19th Street, and it would be a means of moving an already wonderful baseball experience at our ball park to an even higher level.

Gary M. Peterson lives in University Place.

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