BY REBECCA KHEEL Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding a parking spot for the Willie Nelson concert Friday at Bright House Networks Amphitheatre should be relatively hassle free after the city negotiated for 1,000 additional parking spaces at a vacant lot on the corner of Stockdale Highway and Buena Vista Road.
That's the good news.
The downside is that the deal with Albertsons, which owns the lot, is a one-time-only fix to a growing problem: There's just not enough parking available for the increasingly popular shows held at the outdoor venue at the Park at River Walk. Complicating matters further, a nearby retail center owned by Castle & Cooke and anchored by Target has had to hire security to ensure that concert-goers' cars don't clog the parking lot, muscling out shoppers.
"For instance, if Panera (Bread) is only given 12 spots and they're taken over by people going to the concert, Panera cannot service its customers, and it's dead for the night," said Darlene Mohlke, spokeswoman for Castle & Cooke, which connected the city with Albertsons.
The Nelson concert is expected to be one of the biggest to date at the amphitheatre. Approximately 2,000 tickets have been sold. The amphitheatre has a capacity of 4,000.
"I feel confident that we have a good plan in place," said Scott Neal, general manager of SMG, which manages the amphitheatre.
Concertgoers still will be able to park in the amphitheatre's main lot at the Park at River Walk, as well as side streets near the venue and the Aera Park lot. The Albertsons lot will add 1,000 spaces to accommodate concert guests, and SMG and Bakersfield police will have staff directing people where to park.
A bike valet provided by Bike Bakersfield will be available next to the Kern River for those pedaling to the event.
Castle & Cooke will have security guards monitoring its lot, though tickets will not be issued and cars won't be towed, Mohlke said. Instead, concert-goers will be redirected to designated event parking spots.
Target owns the spaces directly in front of its store, so it has control over those spots.
The store has not yet put in place plans for Friday's concert, said Sky Seaborn, one of the store's managers. The only problem Target has had with concert parking was during a 2011 music festival sponsored by local alternative rock radio station KRAB, Seaborn said.
"Teens parked everywhere," she said. "They were taking our carts and rolling them into the lake. They were vandalizing our property."
Target learned from the experience, hiring security and blocking off its parking before the next KRAB Fest concert. The store is considering that option again for Friday's concert, Seaborn said.
When the amphitheatre was planned, the city thought it might be able to work out a parking arrangement with Castle & Cooke, said Dianne Hoover, director of the city's Recreation and Parks Department. That hasn't happened and "it doesn't look good," Hoover said.
"It is their business, and they have to look out for their tenants," Hoover said of the developer.
For future large concerts, the city will approach parking on a case-by-case basis, she said. For now, the Albertsons lot is a one-time deal.
"People," Hoover said, "need to park in concert parking."