Springfield Cardinals say they are disappointed with parking prices

For the second consecutive baseball season, the Springfield Cardinals are not happy with their parking situation.

The Cardinals do not manage or own the parking areas around Hammons Field, including the stadium south lot between Trafficway and St. Louis Street and the parking lot southwest of the stadium near the exhibition grounds.

Both are owned by Atrium Hospitality and JD Holdings.

Springfield Cardinals general manager Dan Reiter told the News-Leader on Wednesday that he was told the parking lot across from Hammons Field would charge a flat fee of $ 15 per night.

In a statement released Friday night, the Cardinals said they were told prices were going to be $ 20 for all games – a change of mind from Atrium Hospitality and JD Holdings.

There were no fans lined up at the gates for what would have been the Springfield Cardinals' home opener at Hammons Field on Thursday, April 16, 2020.

“We are extremely disappointed that Atrium Hospitality and JD Holdings continue to eat into our fans with yet another increase,” the team said in a statement.

The Springfield Cardinals Double-A organization and the owner of the parking spaces competed against each other throughout the 2019 season charging over $ 20 on weekends. When the owner reduced parking prices to $ 14, the Cardinals issued a statement saying it was “unreasonable.”

“We believe that the Owner has breached its obligations under our lease and that the Owner and its affiliates have not acted in good faith in dealing with the Springfield Cardinals, our community and our fans,” said the Cardinals in April 2019.

In February 2020, Springfield Cardinals LLC filed a lawsuit in Greene County, claiming the John Q. Hammons Trust had broken its contract with the baseball club, claiming the parking prices instituted had eaten away at their fans, between other complaints.

Seats at Hammons Field were left empty in what would have been the Springfield Cardinals' home opener on Thursday, April 16, 2020.

The lawsuit cited the JQH Trust’s decision to increase parking prices in the lot adjacent to Hammons Field from $ 7 per space to $ 20 per space for weekend games. The Cardinals say the price increase was unreasonable and violated the terms of the lease. As part of the lawsuit, the team wanted to freeze the price of parking at $ 7.

Apparently, the Cardinals won’t get their wish as they have been told the prices will be $ 20 throughout the season.

The Springfield Cardinals say in the lawsuit that by raising the price of parking for “gouge” fans and others, the JQH Trust has cost the ball club’s profits.

The 2019 season was among the worst seasons in Springfield Cardinals history due in large part to the parking controversy.

Scenes from what would have been the Springfield Cardinals home opener at Hammons Field on Thursday, April 16, 2020.

To combat parking prices set by outside companies, the Cardinals launched a free shuttle service towards the end of the 2019 season that transported fans from the free lot at Ozarks Technical Community College to Hammons Field.

Such a shuttle service will not be provided in 2021, according to Reiter, due to COVID-19.

The Cardinals’ statement on Friday night encouraged “fans will choose to park elsewhere if they are physically able.” While adding that Springfield “deserves better than the way Atrium Hospitality and JD Holdings treat its residents.”

The Springfield Cardinals return to Hammons Field to open the 2021 season Tuesday at 6:35 p.m.

Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist for the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, email [email protected] or Twitter at @WyattWheeler_NL. He is also the co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio weekdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.