Austin FC has partnered with a parking company called Pavemint to manage not only prepaid parking in McKalla Place’s own (small) lots, but also third-party parking areas in the vicinity. Perhaps we’ll see some of the many businesses around the stadium open up their parking lots through Pavemint – looking at you, IBC bank with 40+ empty spaces on the corner of Braker & Burnet.
The first offsite location is one of the big domain parking garages: the “Green Garage” (how perfect is that?) next to the Dillard’s in the south end of the Domain. (Note that this is a different “Green Garage” than the other one at the “Domain Northside”, which is waaaay at the other end, by Whole Foods.)
We gave this option a try at the watch party/preview event yesterday. Briefly: it’s a little pricey, and probably most worthwhile if you’re coming with kids or folks with limited mobility.
We paid $22 for the “Domain Green Garage Shuttle” option, which seems to be the standard price for Austin FC games. It’s $25 for the USWNT game on Wednesday, and for the Gold Cup Semifinal on July 29. This gets you a parking space in the garage, and a school-bus ride from the garage to the stadium (and back, of course).
Here’s how it works. You enter the garage, and are directed by parking attendants to go up to Pavemint’s reserved section of the garage on levels 3 and 4. When you get there, another attendant will scan the prepaid pass on your phone, and give each passenger the wristband needed to board the shuttles. Then you park, go back down to ground level, and board the shuttle. That boarding – and drop-off, when you come back – happens at the side garage entrance by Sushi Zushi and Maggianno’s.
Yesterday, we went from checking in to boarding the bus – including a brief wait in line to do so – in about ten minutes. The shuttles are literally school buses, though without a particular ISD designation, so perhaps they’re contracted for purposes like this. They did have air conditioning, but they’re still, you know, school buses. It’s not a long ride, but if you’re bigger or taller than a schoolchild, it’s not a very comfortable one. After another eleven minutes in traffic we were getting off the bus on the road that leads from the end of Aguilar Street back up to Burnet.
For the return, we left before the final whistle, so we can’t report on how well this system handled a lot of people leaving at the same time. A bus was waiting there outside the stadium; it departed after waiting about five minutes for another dozen or so more riders. We were back at the Green Garage just seven minutes later.
It worked pretty well, all told, and that’s on the very first day, before the inevitable kinks are worked out. But on our initial trip to the stadium, we happened to notice something telling about this transportation option. Two guys caught our eye as they walked out of the parking garage at the same time we boarded the bus. One in a USWNT t-shirt, the other in an MLS2ATX shirt, they were clearly headed to the game. As the bus sat waiting to exit the Domain onto Braker, we saw them again, as they strolled past us. As we waited in traffic on Burnet (which was worse than normal with one lane closed), we saw them stroll past us again. And as we were getting off the bus at the stadium, who else do we notice walking down the sidewalk toward us but those same two gentlemen.
The lesson we took from this is: the walk from the Domain is not that far, and doesn’t take that long. You’re not in the A/C of the shuttle, but if you’re going to a two-hour game outdoors, you’d better get used to the temperature, anyway. And that’s a big garage, for a big multi-tenant shopping center. We can’t imagine anyone is going to be patrolling or towing cars parked there for a couple of hours. If your party is made up of adults who can walk it, we think you’d be better off parking for free in the exact same garage and walking to and from the stadium. If you’re bringing little kids, or anyone that would have a hard time making that three-quarter-mile trek there and back, then the shuttle may be well worth twenty-something bucks.
Update, 6/16/21: We’ve heard that this price includes just two riders on the shuttle, and have had this confirmed by Pavemint support. If your party includes more than two, you’ll be charged an additional $5 per person. In this scenario a couple of adults and a couple of kids will be paying a whopping $32 to park and get two 10-minute school-bus rides. This is even less of a good deal than we first thought.