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Tournament parking prices raise eyebrows

Ashley Hirtzel/WBFO News

Some fans making their way into downtown Buffalo for yesterday's NCAA basketball games experienced sticker shock while trying to park their car. Many were stunned to learn they’d be paying a hefty fee at the lots near First Niagara Center."The parking prices are pretty high today. We paid $30, which is the highest we’ve ever paid for parking. I don’t know who makes the rules, but shame on them,” said John Stevens of Clarence

Stevens says he was shocked to see parking prices near First Niagara Center were higher than normal. People who live locally expected prices to be in the average range of $8 to $15, but lots closest to the arena were charging $30 to $40 to park. The parking ramps connected to First Niagara Center charged $50.

“Well we paid $30. That was crazy, I thought. Crazy. Outrageous. I was shocked when I saw $30. But, what are you going to do?,” said another fan, Todd Badner.

Mayor Byron Brown says he’s not happy with the parking rates. He says the prices send a bad message to visitors.

“Private business can increase their prices. What we have done in the past is we have spoken to parking lot owners that have increased prices with special events, we’ve tried to put pressure on them and in some instances they have reduced their prices after the public criticism,” Brown said.

Brown says if people are looking for lower parking rates, city owned lots are still charging the standard price.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says he is unhappy with the elevated prices, but he says they are legal.

“I’ve actually spoken to the Attorney General’s Office. They have rules against price gouging, but it generally only falls in situations where you have a disaster situation or storm. So, if a gas station tried to take advantage of a bad blizzard by increasing the price of their gas that would be illegal. A situation like this is not illegal it just doesn’t send out a good massage. We consider ourselves the city of good neighbors, but you do things like that it sounds like people are trying to take advantage of the situation,” Poloncarz said Thursday.

Poloncarz says when it comes to private parking lots there isn’t a lot he can do. He says if people are looking for the standard parking rates, lots farther from the arena are charging the standard price.

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