In conjunction with the start of the Michigan football season on September 3 with the season opener game against Western Michigan University, a new website called www.parknparty.com will begin allowing fans to reserve parking spots and tailgating areas near the stadium.
University graduate Taylor Bond, who developed the website with his business partner Jason Kapica, said the site was created after he worked in a parking lot on game days last fall and noticed the stress inflicted upon fans in finding parking and meeting up with friends and relatives.
“One of the things I noticed is that every time a good chunk of people got out of their cars, one of the first things they did was get on their cell phones and try and find their friends,” Bond said.
He said he began brainstorming a solution to help Michigan fans easily park together and tailgate before games and within a year, Park n Party was born.
According to Bond, the website works by having customers reserve their spots online with a credit card and then print out a receipt to display on their dashboard. When the customer pulls into the parking lot on the day of the event, the lot owner will verify their reservation using a manifest provided by Park n Party. However, customers must arrive at least 30 minutes before the game starts in order to ensure their reserved spot is available, Bond said.
The Park n Party website allows fans to find parking spots in both commercial and private lots, and customers can also narrow their search in many ways including distance from the stadium, accessibility to bathrooms and whether or not tailgating is permitted on the premises, according to the company’s website.
By advertising these special features and the parking lots themselves, Kapica explained the business not only benefits the fans, but the lot owners as well, adding that parking lot owners do not pay a service charge for working with Park n Party, but fans pay about $5 that goes towards keeping website in operation.
Bond said he hopes the mutually beneficial relationship for both fans and lot owners will make the website successful this fall and become a staple for fans attending University football games in the future.
“In the end, it works out fantastic both for lot owners and fans because there’s more information out there and more information means more opportunity for everybody, both buyers and sellers,” Bond said. “We hope to be very indispensible soon, and we’ll spread to other markets in the country.”
If the website is a success this fall, Bond said he plans to expand Park n Party to other college towns and event areas.
“We are hoping that with what we learn this year, we can obviously improve things and then spread it to other markets, other Big 10 Markets, and for other kinds of events as well,” Bond said. “Whether it’s the Art Fair or a NASCAR event, we think this makes sense for any kind of event where parking is an issue.”
Currently, the inventory of parking spots for the 2011 University football season is about 30,000 spots, according to Bond. The largest lot is the Ann Arbor Golf & Outing Club, which is offers approximately 1,500 to 1,800 spots a week. Bond added that Park n Party is also talking with the University about providing services for University-owned lots, such as the Crisler Arena parking lot.
Brian Stange, the Golf Pro general manager at the Ann Arbor Golf & Outing Club, said he was approached by Park n Party to feature his lot on their website, and he decided to give them a shot.
Stange said Ann Arbor Golf & Outing Club — located on East Stadium Boulevard — is no stranger to game day parking, as fans have used their lot for over 50 years for parking and tailgating before football games. He added that in addition to helping assist with filling individual parking sports in their lot for games, he hopes Park n Party will also help with selling the majority of season passes.
Stange said he will continue to directly sell most of the season passes for the lot this fall, but he is confident Park n Party will prove to be helpful to his business and doesn’t currently have any concerns about working with the new business.
“This year is kind of a trial period to see how it works, and if everything works out OK more passes will go through them next year,” Stange said. “We’ll probably offer basketball season tickets through them.”