StadiumPark touts ‘EZ Pass for stadiums’ parking app idea

Screen shot of a potential StadiumPark app. Credit: StadiumPark.

Screen shot of a potential StadiumPark app. Credit: StadiumPark.

At first blush, it’s an idea so simple you wonder why it hasn’t been thought of before: Why not build a system that mimics highway EZ Pass functionality to make parking at sports events easier?

That’s the simple but powerful idea behind StadiumPark, a Rochester, N.Y. startup that has developed an app that will let fans pay for parking with their phones, in the hopes of curing one of the main pain points of live game interactions with a faster, easier experience that can benefit teams and stadium owners as well. Though StadiumPark doesn’t yet have any announced customers, it’s a good bet that before long some stadium owners and operators will take a chance on the idea, which is designed to also automatically open parking-lot gates, further reducing human overhead.

In a recent phone conversation with StadiumPark’s 26-year-old founder, Jeremy Crane, we learned the skill sets behind StadiumPark’s insights: According to Crane, part of his work background includes time spent with a large parking-lot company in Rochester that handled concerns like apartment buildings and some stadium lots. An interest in learning more about mobile parking payment systems opened Crane’s eyes to the idea of parking-payment methods other than people in vests taking cash payments through a car window.

A request from Syracuse University, Crane said, to develop an “EZ Pass type app” for parking at the school’s Carrier Dome spurred him into entrepreneurial action, and StadiumPark was born. The combination of an app (which requires users to pre-register with a credit card) and the wireless technology smarts to open parking-lot gates is the main selling point for StadiumPark, which Crane said is in discussions with several potential clients.

If the system works as advertised, it could potentially cut down on the amount of time fans spend in parking-lot lines, one of the banes of live-game attendance. For stadium owners and operators, there is an extra possible incentive of having greater control over parking payments, as well as potentially having more data on fan attendance beyond ticket sales.

“For the venue, the idea is to enable a better experience,” said Crane. “We see a clear advantage to both the stadium and the fans.”

StadiumPark’s business plan is to charge users a small convenience fee, while not charging stadiums or venues. For the system to work well it must clearly have buy-in and promotion from the arena owners and operators, to steer traffic to the StadiumPark-enabled lots. But if the quick rise in mobile parking payments for other places — like airports or shopping areas — is any indicator, a simple app that lets you park quickly and conveniently is one of the uses of technology that could probably gain rapid adoption from fans who just want to get to their seats.