When the San Francisco Giants moved from Candlestick Park in 2000, the Giants transformed fans’ transportation patterns overnight. 95% of fans drove to the old Candlestick park location, according to Staci Slaughter, the Giants’ Communications VP. The Giants sought a different experience for fans when planning the move. “When we were looking for sites,” said Slaughter, we knew that the best sites were served by public transportation. We had seen that in other facilities, at Fenway Park in Boston, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Oriole Park in Baltimore.”
The Giants saw that a walkable location is good for business. ”When we chose the ballpark site, we choose a site in a more urban setting that can take advantage of the waterfront views and help with the development of the neighborhood. It helps from an economic standpoint that people leave the ballpark and stay in the neighborhood and patronize the businesses.”
The Giants’ mode share goal at the new ballpark was set by way of the environmental review process with the City. Following the transportation analysis, the City and the Giants came up with a goal: a 50/50 modal split. Half of the Giants fans would drive, and half would come by some other means of transportation. To cut to the chase, it worked. Since 2000, about half of Giants fans arrive some way other than driving, taking a mix of transit services – Caltrain, BART, Muni Light Rail, ferry – along with walking and bicycling.
Slaughter described the process to create the plan, working for several years with the city and transportation experts. “We surveyed the area, assessing how many parking spots were needed and all the public transit options, to ensure that everyone can get to the ballpark.” The Giants identified 8-9000 parking spots on dedicated lots south of the ballpark with easy access to 280, as well as other spots closer to downtown that are empty at night. The transportation patterns also included fans who come to the ballpark after work. ”We found that a lot of people like to park downtown for work, and go back to their car at night after the ballgame.”
Developing the Giants transportation plan required a lot of upfront work with neighbors and transportation agencies, according to Slaughter. ”We worked with neighbors to implement permit parking to make sure that the ballpark was not taking over neighborhood streets and to ensure there is car turnover for small businesses in the neighborhood. We also worked with transit services; the stadium plan helped bring in Federal funds to build the ferry terminal. For Muni it was a great public relations opportunity to have people to take light rail or ride the bus.”
The change took place literally overnight. According to Slaughter, “it was a major public education effort to retrain our fans who were used to driving, and we found that people embraced it. From day on of our first season in the new ballpark, we had a 50/50 modal split.”
The modal split isn’t 50/50 every day. A game on a weeknight will have more driving, perhaps 55/45. On the weekend, more people come by Caltrain and by ferry, and the balance is 50/50. The Giants keep a constant eye on the mode share, looking at how many people use the parking lots for day, night, weekend games, and get information from the transit agencies about ridership. Maintaining the balance, bringing in 40,000 people for 81 games per season, takes continuous attention. Before every home stand the Giants have a “home stand meeting” with all the transit agencies, police, city services, internal operations services. The Giants need to plan around many other events in the City, such the Blue Angels and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival.
Unlike, for example, some of the Bay Area’s major employers, which have managed gradual, and continual reductions in driving, the Giants’ goal is to maintain their 50/50 mode split which has been consistent over time. Since Caltrain ridership has doubled in the last decade, and bicycling has been increasing, one wonders what other modes of transportation have been declining, to keep the 50% consistent.
The Giants provide ticket-holders with information about the multitude of transportation options, but don’t provide transit discounts, unlike many employers and a growing number of residential developments. Slaughter says this would be difficult to do, since season ticket holders often share their tickets with colleagues, friends and family members who are coming from a variety of different locations. (Although all of the transit services with access to AT&T Park utilize Clipper, and it seems logical that it would be technically possible to credit a Clipper card for those that do use transit).
As Levi’s Stadium gets set to handle customers for 49ers games in Santa Clara, and VTA works to expand capacity and improve connections to Caltrain, perhaps a lesson can be taken from the San Francisco Giants experience.
And how will San Francisco handle the new transportation challenge when the Golden State Warriors move across the Bay? With the Warriors seeking to build a basketball stadium on the waterfront as well, the Giants have been urging the Warriors to locate further away at Pier 50, rather than closer to AT&T Park at Piers 30-32. But if the Warriors move in, the Giants could conceivably be required to evolve their transportation as well. The Mayor’s office is supervising the environmental review, working with the Planning Department and Muni, in order to set the transportation requirements for the Warriors’ move.