With reports of a giant new expansion coming to the United Center, parking will be at even more of a premium. But whenever you make your next visit to the U-C, whether it's tomorrow night or next year, a word of advice: choose your parking carefully.
That's because it's a contest to get your parking dollars.
According to Terry Savarise, who runs the United Center, the facility operates a number of official parking lots close to the stadium. Savarise says they're frustrated by complaints from fans who park in the outlying lots.
There are three major competitors to the U-C, including People's Stadium Parking, Red Top, and some lots owned by a guy named Joseph Feldman.
According to Savarise, there's one complaint about the other guys he keeps hearing over and over.
"The fact that they're being quoted one price to get in the lot, but they're up-charged once they're in the lot," Savarise said.
We drove around ourselves to check prices at several lots before recent Bulls and Blackhawks games.
Look at the run around we got at one of the nearby lots:
Dane: Is that all the spots here, $19?
Guy: Then you got $23 for an easy out.
Dane: So it's $4 more for easy out?
Guy: $3 more. $22 I think. Talk to him.
Dane: So it's $23 or $22?
Guy: $23 or $22.
One fan said that parking for an even at the U-C can become a total nightmare, even if you opt for the "easy out."
"Sometimes we're told we're going be easy out, and it doesn't happen. We get blocked in, we wait hours, and we're forced to sit there and wait and wait, and there's no one there to help us get out," the fan said.
But it's not just the "easy out" that will cost more. One parking attendant told us we'd better park right away.
Guy: You better get a spot, cause after that, it's going up.
Dane: It's going up?
Guy: Yeah. I'm trying to tell people that it goes up when the game starts.
When the U-C was built in the 90s, the city required all the official lots to have bright lights, high fences, landscaping, and the correct amount of handicapped spaces.
"We would like to see everybody should be held to the same set of standards," Savarise said.
But according to Savarise, the private lots aren't nearly as clean, landscaped or lit. And unlike the U-C's official lots, most of the private lots have no marked handicapped spots.
We found just one in this people's parking lot, though the lot attendant didn't seem to be aware of it.
Woman: "None of us has-- nobody has it."
Dane: "Nobody has handicapped out here?"
Woman: "No."... "Do we have handicapped parking? Handicapped parking?"
Savarise says these lots need to start playing more fairly.
"I understand business is business, but their business should be performed and played on a level playing field," Savarise said.
None of the lot operators wanted to talk to us on camera.
Joseph Feldman sent a statement asking if they were "tricking people" why would they still be operating successfully there? He also said "we are not mudslingers, but successful business men."
And People's points out they don't play the "easy out" parking game, which is true; their prices were a flat $20 bucks when we visited.
Red Top just gave us a "no comment".
But a source close to one of the companies told us the companies probably didn't talk because they're scared of political or legal retaliation for speaking out against the united center.