It's official: All parking for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will be at a farm next to the Kentucky Horse Park on Ironworks Pike and will cost a minimum of $20 a car, cash only, Games officials said Wednesday.
That scraps the original plan to allow free parking at Newtown Pike's Coldstream Research Park and to shuttle people to the Horse Park. It also may renew concerns about traffic congestion near the Games.
The plan eliminates any free ride to the games and makes the lowest-cost option to get to the Games a LexTran bus at $5 per passenger round-trip or a $5 per day round-trip available at hotels that are preferred partners of the Games. The cost for those hotel shuttles will increase to $10 for the preferred hotels if bought after Aug. 1, and to $15 if bought during the Games, which run from Sept. 25 to Oct. 10.
Parking is available near LexTran's Vine Street terminal for the $5 bus shuttle, according to the announcement, which does not mention how much it will cost to park there or how many spaces will be available. A LexTran spokesman could not be reached for comment.
The new plan means parking will be a money-making proposition for the Games and also relieves Games officials of running a Coldstream shuttle fleet, which Amy Walker, a spokeswoman for the games, described as too great a responsibility.
Assuming the 9,100 spaces available at $20 and 900 "premium" parking spaces available at $100 are filled, the total daily take for parking would be $272,000, or around $4.3 million for the 16-day run of the Games.
As of Friday, Games organizers said more than 260,000 tickets had been sold, far fewer than they had hoped would be sold at this point.
Spy Coast Farm, a hunter jumper farm on Ironworks Pike next to the Horse Park, said last month it had agreed to lease a 64-acre parcel next to the campground at the Horse Park for parking.
Ironworks Pike is two lanes between Newtown Pike and the Horse Park campground, where it becomes four lanes leading to Interstate 75. Walker said that, rather than increasing the possibility of bottlenecks into and out of the Games, the variety of travel options "provides a little more flexibility for traffic management."
An earlier estimate from Jim Downs, a traffic expert from Gameday Management Group who is in charge managing traffic for the Games, calculated they would need to move 22,000 people an hour.
Downs did not return a phone call requesting comment.
"The great thing about this plan is that it does offer a range of options for spectators," Walker said. "We have tried to keep this program as affordable as possible while maintaining our fiscal responsibility."
In November, Downs, who was in charge of traffic for 10 Super Bowls, said most Games spectators would park free at Coldstream Research Park, where there is room for 8,500 cars. Then they would take free shuttles to the Horse Park.
Another 3,500 cars were expected to pay $100 or $60 a day for preferred parking at the Horse Park.