From sea to shining sea of wasteful surface parking lots

The images below depict the extent of wasteful surface parking lots that can be found across the United States at many major sports venues, especially those dedicated to football, baseball, and soccer. Much of the land currently set aside for parking the almighty automobile could be repurposed for many more beneficial uses – parks/open space, affordable/additional housing, transit stations, museums, etc.

Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California – Source:

Such wasteful parking lots tend to occur at suburban locations, though Dodgers Stadium (shown above) is a notable exception. More urbanized/downtown sites appear to better incorporate links with transit and/or utilize existing/new parking garages to reduce the amount of land coverage by parking. The fact that the Meadowlands Complex outside New York City (shown below) is not directly served by some type of rail transit is hard to fathom. Hence, the sea of surface parking lots there.

MetLife Stadium/Meadowlands Arena/Race Track in East Rutherford, New Jersey – Source:

Meanwhile, the following four stadiums were built car-centric with limited means of alternative access. Though it is interesting to note that on 11/16/22, Miami Metrorail announced its intent to extend rail service to Hard Rock Stadium with construction expected to commence in 2024.

AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – Source:

Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida – Source:

Toyota FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas – Source dreamstime,com

State Farm Stadium and Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona – Source:


Now, compare the stadiums shown above to the following from both here in the United States and in Europe. In the Cleveland photo (just below), there are parking garages to the north and northwest of the sports venues, but very little surface parking. In addition, both the RTA’s Blue and Green lines are linked to the sports complex with light rail service across Ontario Street.

Progressive Field/Rocket Mortgage Arena in Cleveland, Ohio – Source:

Stamford Bridge (Chelsea Stadium) in London, England, UK – Source:

At the Murrayfield Complex in Edinburgh (just below) and Aviava Stadium in Dublin (second below), a commuter railway station is adjacent to the complex. For Stamford Bridge (shown above), the station is located just to the southwest (outside the photo). Very little automobile parking (surface or garage) is provided at all three. With exception of the adjacent railways, these three stadiums are largely surrounded by residential neighborhoods.

Murrayfield Stadium/Rugby Stadium/Ice Rink in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK – Source:

Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland – Source:

The Lisbon, Portugal stadium complex (shown below) is a little more similar to those in the United States. Not only does it have a surface parking area at the northeast corner. However, there are also two subway (Metro) stations located close to the site, to the west and southeast (see the blue capital “M”s).

Lisbon Sports Stadium – Lisbon, Portugal – Source:

A much less car-centric sports complex in Los Angeles (compared to Dodger and Sofi Stadiums) – Memorial Coliseum (USC football) and Banc of California Stadium (LAFC soccer) still have some surface parking, but is also surrounded by museums, parks, the University of Southern California (USC), and residential neighborhoods. Also, the site is served by a Metro Rail Station – located just to the north of the image.

Memorial Coliseum and Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, California- Source:

Lastly, US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis does a terrific job of linking the stadium with two mass transit light rail lines (shown below). As a result, the amount of surface parking at or near the stadium is limited, helping the surrounding neighborhoods remain more cohesive.

US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota showing blue and green lines of light rail service -Source:

This post isn’t meant to pick on stadiums, as there are many other land uses across the United States that are designed to be too car-centric. Shopping centers, office parks, government offices, theme parks, schools, big box retailers, and many others are constructed with far too much surface parking. Thankfully, a number of places are starting to abolish parking minimums. Furthermore, links to alternative forms of transportation – rail. bus, walking, and biking are being incorporated into new developments. Hopefully, we can continue to learn from other parts of the world on how best to reduce our over-dependency on the automobile. Not only would that reduce our pavement overload, but help improve our health and reduce our climate footprint. And that would be a win-win-win for all of us.



If the topic of parking interests you, here are two books on the topic available through*

……….. Link – Paved Paradise ………………………………… Link – High Cost of Free Parking

*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using the above links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

This entry was posted in Active transportation, Alternative transportation, Cars, cities, downtown, economic development, engineering, geography, history, Housing, infrastructure, land use, Maps, parking, Passenger rail, placemaking, planning, Portugal, product design, rail, Railroads, spatial design, sprawl, Statistics, technology, third places, tourism, traffic, transit, transportation, Travel, UK, urban design, urban planning, visual pollution, walking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to From sea to shining sea of wasteful surface parking lots

  1. Dan Tilque says:

    News item: large parking lots in France are going to be required to be covered with solar canopies. That includes both future and current lots. If we did the same thing in the US, we’d likely solve many of our energy worries.

    Liked by 1 person

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