This is the latest iteration of this popular post, first written just prior to the EAGLES opening the PPL Center in Allentown in September, 2014. Much has changed downtown since then; some parking venues no longer exist, while some new options and policies have been added. The previous versions are below if you’d like to read back and maybe pick up something–but understand that it is old information. This version: 11/15/2016 in advance of the AHL All Star Game. I’ve been to almost every hockey game over the first two seasons, as well as a few concerts and events, a bunch of the restaurants, and every indoor football game. This post is meant to share my experiences to the best of my knowledge, and help make it easy for you to get in and out without incident
Planning Your Visit:
The PPL Center in Allentown is a true downtown facility, located in the heart of the city. Parking is multi-site–meaning that one deck or lot does not hold the majority of the vehicles. This is both a problem and an advantage, because as you depart downtown after your event, you’ll all be leaving from different locations, making egress easier.
If you’re here, it’s because you’re researching your options ahead of time. To my way of thinking, you have two strategies available to you, depending on how you are planning your evening: The first is to plan your parking based on your pre-event dinner. Perhaps you’re willing to trade post-event inconvenience for quick access to dinner or drinks prior to the event. In this case, choose a parking facility near where you plan to be pre-event. The second method, is to choose your parking facility based on egress route. Remember that many of the streets surrounding the arena are one-way–and those closest to the arena may be blocked off following the event to allow for pedestrians to exit unmolested. This means that if you choose poorly, you may have to go all the way around the arena zone to get out of the city. For example, if you park on the north/eastern edge of the arena zone, but need to exit to the south/west, the detour may take you quite a few minutes. It’s easier to cross the zone or go around prior to the event. Your walk is easier, too, when the evening is younger–usually.
There are a few additional parking choices which are not labeled on the above map, but the major players are there. As well, you can see most of the one-way street limitations as you plan for your initial parking as well as your exit. Not all deck entrances and exits are labeled, but the ones that are there are accurate. We’ll talk more about restaurants and specific parking facilities below. In any case, remember to set your GPS for the address of the parking facility, NOT the arena itself.
First Choices: Arena Decks
Eighth Street Deck: There is a parking facility located under the arena with access from 8th Street. This deck is by pass only. There is access from this facility directly to the suite levels on the South end of the arena, as well as to the LVHN building. However, unless you have a pass from your suite or from LVHN, this is not a choice for you. Event parking is not sold for this facility, ever, that I know of.
Linden Street Deck: “Arena North” — As the name suggests, this deck, attached to the North end of the arena and accessed via entrance on Linden Street, is the other choice. This facility is available on non-event nights; on event nights it is “Pre-paid pass only.” You can purchase a pre-paid pass for this deck when you purchase your tickets. Otherwise, try THIS LINK to purchase after the fact–or via the PPL Center website, following the parking links. The parking rate is the same, but you’ll be charged fees in conjunction with the on-line ordering process. If you can’t find advanced parking for your event, it is very possible that it has sold out.
Accessible Parking: In theory, accessible parking is available at every location, with shuttle service to the main entrance of the PPL Center. However, this is not always practical or possible. My advice is to contact the arena about purchasing a pass in the Linden Street Deck. You’ll park at ground/entrance/gate level, proceed through the gate/check-in process at the Air Product Gate (7th/Linden), and then use an elevator directly to the concourse near section 108.
Here’s a concourse map of the PPL Center, showing the gates and the parking entrances:
Second Choices-Authority Decks
Next on our list, although not necessarily second-best, are the main garages run by the Allentown Parking Authority. You can pre-purchase parking from the authority HERE.
Spiral Deck: So-named because of the large spiral ramp–illuminated orange on Phantoms nights–I believe it is accessible mainly from Linden Street, although it exits to both 8th Street and Linden. It is a large facility and very rarely (popular concerts only) sells out–an excellent choice if the Farr Lot is full (see below). It is easy walking distance to the Northwest Gate of the arena, as well as to restaurants West of the arena, such as Allentown BrewWorks.
Walnut Street Deck: Among the farthest from the arena, it’s still not a tremendous walk. It may be an excellent choice if you’re eating in the eighth (BrewWorks) or ninth (Bay Leaf, Sugar Hill Jazz) street blocks prior to your event. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it sell out, and there should be shuttle service available, although I cannot guarantee it. Egress is easy via Walnut/Ninth/Union if you’re heading West to go home. There is access via Walnut Street as well as 9th Street. If you’re coming in from the West via Walnut Street, and are running late and afraid other facilities might be sold out, grabbing a spot here and hoof it quickly might be your best bet.
Community Deck: The newest facility in the Allentown Parking Authority inventory, this large, well-lit deck is accessible via Walnut Street or Sixth Street. I’ve used it many times, and never seen it even close to full. Exit is easy to Walnut Street and not horrible to Sixth Street. It is closer to Hamilton than it looks in the map above, and I often park here if I’m eating East of the arena–Bell Hall, Hook, Grain, Centro, etc. This deck has hookups for electric cars, although I don’t know the details on that feature.
Government Deck: Located down on Fourth Street, this is the deck furthest from the arena. I suspect it’s not used much because they’ve now gone to regular pay-by-the hour ticket parking even on event nights. That may or may not be cheaper depending on what time you get downtown. I’ve heard that the shuttles don’t run like they used to, either, so you may need to plan on walking the three blocks.
PARK FREE* Now might be a good time to talk about the downtown’s “PARK FREE*” initiative. On any non-event night, you can park in these designated locations (the ones I just reviewed, and in red in the map above), take a parking ticket on entrance, and have it validated for no-cost parking while visiting downtown to eat or shop. On an event night, you’ll have to pay the parking fee on entrance ($6 most events; $10 concerts) and remember to ask for a receipt. If you take that receipt to the restaurant or shop, they’ll take it off your purchase. There are limits–only certain places participate, and it can’t be an arena-connected place (ie Chickies, 99 Bottles, Tim Horton’s) on event nights. For more information about this program, including a list of the restaurants and shops that participate and how the valet service works, CLICK HERE. My experience is that not every place has staff that knows, so you might need to ask for a manager. Even then, I’ve been told, “We don’t have any tickets any more.” So it doesn’t work perfectly on non-event nights. On event nights getting the $6 or $10 off at the restaurants has been easy.
The next parking facilities are not included in this program.
“Transportation Center”: Usually I enter along North Sixth Street, but you may be able to enter from the right lane on Linden as well. This is a pretty good spot to park if eating at Hook, or Queen City BBQ on the Arts Walk. This deck could get crowded if there’s an event at Symphony Hall.
The Other Government Deck: There’s a “Gov Center” deck with access off Walnut, the block prior to the Community Deck, Left Lane. This deck is not usually available to the public at large, and is not listed on the maps above. However, on big, big event nights they may open it. Only enter if you see parking personnel and the appropriate signage–otherwise continue to the Community Deck. The access is limited to parking card holders and you’ll have to back your way out if you make a mistake here.
“Linden/Strata Garage”: No longer listed on the above maps, so I’m not sure they’re still using it. Access from Linden in the Left Lane just after Sixth Street but before Strata Flats I. Also, there’s construction in this area. If it looks blocked, and you’re in the Left Lane and can’t get over to the Trans Center, then just keep going and use the Spiral Deck a couple blocks down. I believe Strata Flats residents use this deck.
Third Choices: Parking Lots
State Lot: I usually think of this as the “Symphony Hall” lot. In November 2016 this lot closed for construction of a garage and more apartments.
North and NE Lots: I’m not familiar with these, and I hear of them filling quickly. The advantage of small lots is that exit is often pretty quick.
Farr Lot: The Farr Lot has access via 8th street, and is an excellent choice–although large, it fills quickly. It is right across the street from the Northwest entrance to the arena and only a short walk from the 8th Street block restaurants. If you’re coming into town on 8th avenue, it is an excellent choice.
Wells Fargo Lot: Located just South of the arena and Hamilton Street, with access from the Right Lane of Seventh Street, this lot is really close by. See the map at the top of the page. There is also a side access from the Left Lane of Walnut Street. This is the lot behind the Wells Fargo Bank and LCCC location on Hamilton Street. Plans to develop this area have stalled for the time being and this excellent lot remains.
Germania Lot: One of my favorites, it’s another block down from Wells Fargo, again with access from 7th Street, Right Lane. It’s small, and egress is fantastic via 7th Street and Union.
Meters: Meters can be an excellent choice if you play it right. However, they have changed the rules some over the past couple years to make them less of an option. Along Hamilton Street, as well as for one block on either side, meters have prices and time limits which make them dis-advantageous for attending an event; maybe more appropriate for picking up donuts and coffee. Beyond that, check the timing, use the appropriate quarters–or the MobileNOW app (last I checked)–pay and go. I believe they check them until 10PM or so, now, so you’ll have to pay all the way through. The other thing is Sunday: No meter monitoring on Sunday so just park and go!
Other Spots: Be cautious about unmarked spots, broken meters, taped or coned off areas, and the like. The price of the parking ticket and the tow job will far surpass what your regular parking fee will be.
Another Change: During the winter of 2016-17 the Parking Authority is upgrading some of its systems and may not be able to accept credit cards at all locations. Bring cash, $6 or $10, and ask for a receipt. Or, purchase your parking ahead of time via the PPL Center site or the Parking Authority site.
“The arena garage looks like the best choice, right?”
Not necessarily. If you are eating before the game/show, the walk can be more. Getting out can be a bit slow, and it costs more because they tack on fees. See above for strategies, but plan your parking based on where you’re eating before-hand or how you’ll leave afterwards (or both). Remember, if you want to park in that arena deck, you’ll need to pre-purchase the parking pass.
“Should I pre-purchase my parking from the Arena or the Parking Authority?”
Again, not necessarily. If your plans change based on your arrival time or your pre-event meal, then it can be cumbersome. It makes your travel less flexible, and if for some reason you don’t make it downtown at all, you’ve wasted the parking fee. If you’re not eating beforehand, and you want to be close. Or, if you need a spot the most consistent with your personal physical ability (ie if you’re disabled in any way) to get into the arena, then yes, absolutely pre-purchase the arena parking–by phone if necessary, just tell them your about your limitations. As for the authority, they’ve mostly been selling Community Deck online, and I don’t think that deck has ever sold out. Just pay when you get there, I think.
“How much does the parking cost, again?”
Parking is $6 for sports and events, $10 for concerts–subject to change. Government Deck at 4th/Hamilton is by the hour.
“I hate paying for parking. How can I save money?”
First, don’t pre-purchase because it cuts down on your flexibility and could add fees. Second, consider the PARK FREE* program, to get your parking refunded when grabbing a bite to eat before the event. Consider a meter spot on Sundays. The Government Deck is probably cheaper. Just be cautious about parking in an un-secure area. Public transportation and car-pooling are also possibilities.
“What time do they start collecting parking for an event?”
It depends. It depends on the event and on which facility you are using. My experience is, the closer to the arena you are, the sooner in the day they start collecting–it could be as soon as 3PM for a popular concert. For most hockey games it’s 4PM-4:30PM for a 7:05PM puck drop. If you park prior to the event parking, your are subject to the normal metered parking rules of the city–again, use caution.
“So you listed lots third, does that mean they’re the last choice?”
Nope, not at all. Lots are usually easier to get out of at the end of the evening, which is why that’s where I normally park. I’ll choose a garage only if the convenience is more for me, depending on where I’m eating prior to the game.
“Didn’t there used to be an app for downtown parking?”
Yeah, kinda. There was AllentownEventParking.com which had all the facilities on a map, and you could click on them to see how full they were. It doesn’t appear they’re supporting that any more. However, the authority is very responsive on twitter at @atownparking answering questions and updating on parking facilities which may be full. If you are stuck in traffic on your way downtown, have someone else in your car follow along for real-time updates.
“Is it safe downtown?”
Yeah, I’ve never had a problem or felt uncomfortable. I haven’t heard anything–rumors or otherwise–either. The only thing I’d add, is that all of the facilities feel well-lit and there are emergency phones available and so on. The later you’re leaving after the conclusion of the event–like say, if you go out for drinks afterwards–the more desolate the area will be. Keep your guard up and travel in groups in that case.
“I could use the valet, right?”
Yup. I’ve thought about it a few times. It’s more expensive ($20 plus tip) but you can’t beat the convenience. The only concern I’d really have would be the quickness by which they could return my vehicle afterwards. If I’m standing out there in the snow after a hockey game waiting for them to fetch my car amid all the other traffic whatnot in the area, I’m not sure I’m really gaining anything. But, you can drop off and pick up in any of the different spots. It really could work. And, you can get some of it reimbursed under the PARK FREE* program. Read more about it under that link above.
“Which lots are best for tailgating?”
Unfortunately, tailgating isn’t a good option downtown. They’ve virtually out-law’d it. Really, they want you to eat at one of the downtown restaurants or inside the arena. I’m a big fan of tailgating, so this doesn’t necessarily please me; however, there are so many great places to eat and drink downtown, now, that it has calmed my tailgating desire. If you’re just having a beverage near your car, they’ll probably leave you alone. But if you’re setting up camp, you’ll have the police and parking authority as “guests” before too long.
“What if I just tell them I’m a guest at the hotel?”
I don’t think so. Plus, hotel parking is like $16 a day, so you haven’t saved anything.
“Are there any problem points with getting downtown?”
When the arena first opened, construction at the intersection of Linden and 7th Street had that area as a bottle neck. Now, construction at 6th/Linden is doing the same thing. Linden has been a bit of a problem, westbound (of course), EAST of the arena, from 5th Street or so all the way until 8th or so. Construction on the corner of 6th and Hamilton is cumbersome as well.
“What about public transportation?”
I’ve never used it, but it looks like LANTA route 218 runs to the Transportation Center right near the arena. Click Here to see the route, from the west side of the valley, or go to the LANTA website.
“What if it snows? Will the lots be open?”
Yeah. For the most part, it’s “the show must go on” as long as the performer or the hockey teams and officials are in town. My experience has been that they did a good job cleaning the surface lots in a timely manner, but not so much the side walks. And, sometimes the snow has nowhere to go, so lanes get blocked on some of the downtown streets. Leave a little extra time for travel, and wear sensible footwear, and you should be fine. If it’s likely to snow during your event, consider the garage options, which are under cover.
“Where can I find out more about the PPL Center Arena?”
I wrote a whole thing on that, too. CLICK HERE to read. It should be updated at some point late fall 2016 or early winter 2016.
Happy arena-going; enjoy your event. If you have any questions, use the comments section below and I’ll try and answer. Remember that things are always changing downtown, so I apologize for any inaccuracies.
This was the second version, from last fall:
It’s been well over a year now in the “Arena Era” in Downtown Allentown. I’ve been to a few concerts, a few events, and ALL the hockey games and arena football games. I’ll try to provide some information about the parking situation for PPL Center events in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
There are two parking “garages” within the arena block, subtended by Hamilton and Linden Streets between Seventh and Eighth Streets in the very heart of Allentown, PA. One of the garages is the “Eighth Street” garage, with the entrance on Eighth Street just North of Hamilton. This garage is ONLY for VIPs, Hockey Players, Suite Holders, and LVHN use. You MUST have a pass specific to this garage to park here, and I have no idea how to get one. Don’t even try to park in this deck. It may also be referred to as “Arena West.”
The other “arena” garage is the Linden Street Garage. The Parking Authority refers to this garage as “Arena North.” As it’s name suggests, it is accessible from Linden Street, on the North side of the arena block. It is not a very large facility and is now (usually) only available to pre-purchase pass holders and Renaissance Hotel guests–as far as I know, on event nights. However, if you have pre-purchased parking from the PPL Center web site labeled “Linden Street Garage” it is this facility where you’ll be parking. Depending on when you purchase your tickets–or when you check–there may be a link on the PPLCenter.com web site where you can purchase parking in this facility. Some season ticket holders for hockey have been able to purchase a season pass for this facility. When this deck is sold out, the link on the web site disappears. If they do not sell out via this pre-sale for any particular event, you may be able to park there with the normal fee. If so, save your receipt and have it validated at a non-arena downtown merchant (see below) and you may be able to get your parking reimbursed.
At this time, there is a link on the main PPLCenter.com site where you can pre-purchase parking. Click [Event Parking], then click the link for pre-purchase. You can also pre-purchase as part of your ticket order. Once you have tickets in your cart, a button will appear, to add parking. If they’ve sold all the available spots, those buttons probably won’t be available, or the order won’t go through. You’ll pay the $6.00 (or $10.00 for concerts) parking fee and associated arena fees as well. Otherwise, you could ask the ticket sales folks about the option if ordering over the phone. There is an elevator which will take you from the garage, directly to the concourse behind section 107. If you require Accessible Parking, then this is probably the best option. If you can’t find the link or suspect that the deck is sold out, call and ask them about accessible parking.
Parking Passes: Full season ticket holders have been able to pre-purchase parking in the “Arena North” for the entire season, at $6/game. If you are a season ticket holder and this appeals to you, contact your ticket rep for information if this is still available or if they’ve sold out.
The Renaissance Hotel Allentown and the associated Dime Restaurant, connected with the arena, commandeer a ton of the spaces within the “Linden Street” garage. They charge $12 per day for parking at the hotel–$24 with valet service along with your room fee, if you’re a hotel guest.
The garage entrances can be seen in the concourse map below:
For hockey season ticket holders, on nights when there are spaces available in the “Linden” or “Arena North” garage, you can proceed as if you are going to purchase one ticket for the game, then [Add Parking], then remove the seat and purchase only the parking for the Linden Garage. However, you still have to pay the fees, so your $6.00 parking is now $9.50. But if you really want to be in that garage, that might be the way to do it. Lately, there’s also a big yellow link “Event Parking” right on the main PPLCenter.com web page.
The Parking Authority Gets Into The Act
Another new development is that the Allentown Parking Authority–which runs all of the other downtown parking options such as the lots and deck and including the street/meter parking–has also begun to sell advance-sale parking. Here is the link. If that link doesn’t work, proceed to AllentownEventParking.com and follow the prompts for pre-purchase passes. As of this writing, the passes are available for the Spiral Deck and the Trans Center only. As far as I can tell, the rate is the same as normal–$6 or $10 depending on the event–and no other fees are added. I’ve learned that this is available up until the day before the event. If you’re reading this on the day of the event, you’ll have to pay when you get there.
Advanced: I suppose the advantage of pre-purchasing parking from the Authority is that you’re (somewhat) guaranteed a spot in one of those two facilities, if you know you want to park there. Or, if you’re paying for the parking for someone else who’s going with you. The disadvantage is that you’re then locked in for that particular facility and if your plans change and you’re coming from a different direction or if you can’t make the event at all, you’ve already spent the money for parking. The other disadvantage, I can imagine, is that if you are a bit late, and the deck is almost full, and they let you in with your pass because there’s one spot left guaranteed for you–now you’re going to have to FIND that spot–driving all through the facility searching for the one parking spot left over. Could happen–all I’m saying.
“What are my other parking options?”
Most folks will not have the opportunity to park in one of the arena decks. In fact, if you’re on this page and you don’t already have a pass for the arena garages, then please don’t waste your time even trying. There are many, many other parking options in downtown, within easy walking distance. They are “all” operated by the Allentown Parking Authority. For more, general information about the Parking Authority’s policies and procedures, click here. The authority also has a “real time” parking map which will notify you of parking availability–it’s a good idea to load this on your smartphone (and then hand it to a passenger!). Here’s a link to AllentownEventParking.com. Click on a color-coded lot and it will tell you the number of spaces currently available. Click on “directions” and it will take you to the entrance to said lot/deck. It will give you the address for the entrance, too, so that you can load it into your GPS if you like. This is up to date in real time, as far as I know, so it will be more accurate than the maps I’ve printed below which don’t include all options, or have some defunct locations listed as well.
Here’s a parking map:
“How do I communicate with the Parking Authority?”
I’ve found them to be VERY responsive via Twitter. Follow them at @AtownParking. Beware, though, they constantly pester lately trying to sell advanced parking. You can call the Parking Authority during business hours at 610-841-9090. If you FOLLOW the parking authority on Twitter, they will often update traffic and parking conditions in real time before an event. This is particularly helpful for concerts and other events where many new fans are in attendance. At this point, most hockey fans have the procedure down “pat” and don’t need much guidance–traffic and parking on hockey nights is usually pretty smooth. Event nights may be a bit worse as more folks unfamiliar with the streets and lots and garages may all be in the area at the same time, and the crowds may be larger. One other problem on concert-type nights is that the stage rigging trucks, tour buses and other equipment are usually parked on the streets, making things a bit more congested.
“Wait, are there two ‘Linden’ garages?”
Yeah. The Arena folks refer to their deck with the Linden Street entrance as the “Linden Street” garage. The parking authority has the same name for their deck at 612 West Linden, so they’ve started calling the Linden Street Arena Deck, “Arena North.”
“What does parking cost?”
Parking at all authorized locations costs $6 for sporting and other events and $10 for concerts. At this juncture, it seems like only big-time musical acts are considered “concerts.” Most events have been $6. You’ll pay by cash or credit card upon entrance. The hotel charges $12 for their portion of the Linden Street arena garage, and you must be a guest, I guess. If you pre-purchase parking from the PPLCenter.com web site, they WILL add fees and order charges and the like to the parking portion of the order. If you pre-purchase from the Parking Authority (see above) they do not (I don’t think).
“What time do they start collecting parking fees?”
My personal experience is, that the closer you are to the arena, the sooner they begin. Close-by lots and garages around 3:30PM-4:00PM for a 7:05PM hockey game. A little further away and I’ve seen them setting up at 4:30PM. New for 2015-2016 is that if you show up before they’re ready, they won’t collect your $6 but won’t let you park either–they will detain you until the setup is complete. This does not please me–if I’m there I want to park and get to the arena or the restaurant as the case may be.
If you’re even earlier, you may avoid the event parking fee, but you’ll still be subject to the parking policies of downtown which the residents, business people and patrons must abide by normally during the day. This means feeding the meter or registering with the automated lot attendant–and may not end up saving you much money considering the time involved. In any case, use caution when parking for “free.” Keep some quarters in the car in case you’re going to be down there early. Please be aware, though, meter parking policies changed in May, 2015 (see below).
“What about the meters?”
This used to be an excellent option and strategy to save money on parking downtown. However, some changes have made it more difficult. Don’t worry, it wasn’t my fault for writing about it. They were always going to close the loopholes and suck as much money out of the parking as they could. And, they are. Even on non-event days (see below) they are trying to drive most of the parking to the garages and decks.
On-street meter parking is now enforced 8AM to 10PM Monday through Saturday. The rate is $1.00 per hour except within the “arena zone” from 4th to 10th Street along Hamilton, and within one block on either side, where it’s $2.00 per hour. Plus, max parking is 2 hours–per fill. This is what makes it less of an option these days. Still, if it’s a Sunday, or a major holiday, go ahead and make use of it because it’s not enforced.
Another new development is the “phone parking.” Snap the QR code on the meter and pay by phone using the MobileNOW! app. The advantage here is that you can then re-pay the meter via your smartphone! Add in the new “Phan Wi-Phi” within the arena, and suddenly the meters are an option again. However, by the time you pay through to 10PM, not necessarily a savings.
“How do I get downtown?”
One of the beauties of the downtown location is multiple routes in, multiple routes out, and multiple parking options. On the map below, I’ve tried to use large red arrows to show routes in and out via the many one-way streets. From the North, you’ll likely come in via 7th Street. That can get jammed up a bit sometimes. Leave some extra time, or consider 15th Street or another odd-number street in between for matriculating South towards the arena. From the East you may consider Linden Street or Chew Street or Hamilton Street. Another option would be Martin Luther King to Union. Once the Parkway Bridge is open next year, that will be a very viable option via Airport Road. From the South you may consider the Eighth Street bridge (you’ll have to leave another way, though, until they finish fixing it) or via South 4th Street from I-78, in to Martin Luther King and Union near Parkettes. From the West you can come all the way in on Hamilton, or via Walnut or Martin Luther King from South-West. Starting in November 2015 (supposedly), when the Parkway Bridge opens, you’ll be able to shoot downtown from Airport Road, past Coca Cola Park on the Parkway, over the new bridge and down towards Hamilton. In this case, it’s probably a good idea to make a RIGHT on Linden from the Parkway and head in that way to ATC, Linden, Arena, and Spiral facilities. Or, use Hamilton for the Government Deck (cheaper, with free shuttle service) or eastern facilities.
“What if it’s snowy? Will they still hold the event? Will I be able to park?”
For hockey, they will always play as long as the other team and the officials are in town. For other events, it will probably depend on the performer, but I’d imagine if they’re in town, the show will go on. Over the first Winter, the streets were well-plowed and maintained downtown during weather events. The lots have been nicely plowed as well. The walk ways and sidewalks maybe less so. Choose footwear wisely when headed downtown on a snowy day.
Advanced: Choose a parking deck over a lot on a snowy day so that you don’t have to scrape your car when you come out at the end.
“What should I avoid? Have there been any trouble spots or problems?”
A couple things–although not that bad: Leave a little extra time to avoid frustration. Try to avoid the intersection of 7th Street and Linden if you can. The confluence of South-bound and West-bound traffic, coupled with pedestrians, has caused a bottle-neck there. Also, avoid driving around “searching.” Plan on your parking destination. Go there. And park. Walk. It’s safe and well-lit in most cases. Avoid planning on parking in the arena block. Those two garages I mentioned above are likely not available to you, unless you have a pass specifically for them. Plus it’s the toughest area to get out of after the game (event). Avoid putting the arena address in your GPS. Use the address of the lot you plan on using; thus you won’t have to drive around the arena zone in circles–what with all the one-way streets and such. Avoid parking in any unauthorized locations. Empty lots may seem tempting, but if you get towed or ticketed or vandalized, you won’t save anything in the end. Stick with the Authority lots.
“What are my other options?”
Well, another strategy would be to visit one of the nice, new downtown eateries and pay for valet parking. I think it’s like $20 on an event night, but you’ll have no worries and a short walk and a nice meal to boot! There’s more on valet parking and the “park free” initiative, below.
Or, get a room at that hotel. Then you don’t have to worry about driving home after consuming beers at the game/event. However, you’ll have to pay for the room AND for the parking ($12-$24).
Advanced: The problem with valet parking for an event is that you’re going to have to wait outside while the valets retrieve your vehicle. They will have to battle arena traffic and closed streets in order to get it back to you. This could take some time. Outside, perhaps. In the snow. Just saying, it’s a possible downside. Plus you’ll probably tip the valet.
“I’m cheap. How can I save money on the parking fees?”
As I mentioned above, please try to resist the temptation to park on private property.
This used to be a longer list, but the loopholes are closing. Here are a couple quick ideas I had, though:
- The Government Deck at 4th/Hamilton is only $3. If coming from the East, this is pretty slick. And, there’ll be a bus to take you right to the arena door if you don’t want the 3-block walk. Those I know who have done this swear by it, and they tell me the buses are heated.
- On-street parking on Sundays, major holidays, and after 10PM
- Public transportation: Buses stop right in front of the arena!
- Find a friend who lives downtown and see if you can share parking location with them.
- Carpool or get a ride: combine with other fans and split the cost, or have someone drop you off.
- If you’re going to eat or shop somewhere other than the arena prior to or after the event, see below about having your parking reimbursed.
“What about leaving? How do I get out of there?”
Good question. As with access, egress is available via many routes. In fact, I recommend that you start to think about how you’re going to get out of there before you even pick a parking location to begin with: Remember, folks will be arriving downtown over the course of several hours prior to the game or event, whereas afterwards, (most) everyone will be leaving all at once.
I believe they may “reverse” 7th Street north of the arena some nights, too. As with entry, though, plan your egress route in advance. Then, try to avoid crossing through the arena zone, as traffic and pedestrians will slow things down. In fact, some of the streets near the arena are closed at the end of the event so that pedestrians can more easily exit the area. You don’t want to get caught in that. You’ll do better moving away from the arena and then in whatever direction you need to proceed–even if you have to backtrack a bit, at least you won’t be caught in traffic or at a closed street. Please be careful about pedestrians, snowy areas, and double-parked cars as you navigate the streets of downtown Allentown.
This is also to be considered when deciding which type of facility to use: Lots tend to empty quickly as none of them are large enough to be jammed up for very long. Everyone leaving the parking garage all at once can be a little slower. However, during hockey season when it snows, having your car parked under cover is a nice perk!
One last thing about egress: the police presence downtown does start to wane as the evening progresses much past the ending of the event. If you decided to stay downtown for drinks or snacks following the game or event, you’ll be leaving later into the evening. This would be my only concern about safety. It’s still well-lit, and I’ve felt safe myself, and there are some nice places to visit down there for a bite or a beverage (don’t drink and drive)–but the later you stay, the more possibility you’ll find yourself walking through downtown Allentown by yourself in the middle of the night. Just saying.
“I have to visit the arena for a non-event reason. Where should I park for that?”
Good question. In fact, the downtown merchants and such have a resource for you as well, and despite the fact that they’re driving you into the lots and decks and away from the meters, they’ll pay the parking for you! Here’s a link to the downtown associations parking notes. Here’s their map:
There’s kind of a walk from the arena garage to some of the downtown restaurants and such. Plus, I think they’re a bit unrealistic about the ability to park in that arena garage on event nights–it’s permit only and fills up quickly. Still, it’s another resource and a way to save on parking if you’re going downtown for dinner or shopping on a non-event night.
But then, this option has been expanded in advance of the 2015 Holiday Season: In addition to the “Arena North” deck, the “Park Free” promotion now includes Parking Authority locations–
Community Deck (S.6th Street, opens 11/23/2015)
On non-event nights, take a ticket at the parking facility listed above–or at the arena deck–and present it at the participating merchant or eatery to have it validated, and you won’t have to pay as you exit. On an event night, get a receipt for your $6 or $10, and the merchant or eatery will take that amount off your bill.
With validation, valet parking is only $6 after discount all nights including event nights, with validation from a participating business. It now runs 24-hours and you can drop your car off at one location and pick it up at another. They’ve even added an additional spot at Shula’s. Here are the spots and hours:
2 City Center (645 Hamilton)–5PM-12:30AM
Shula’s/ArtsWalk–5PM-10AM (really? or is it 10PM?)
Validation Points (These are changing, so feel free to ask at your chosen destination):
- 7th & Sole
- Assembly 88
- Chickie’s and Pete’s*
- Tim Horton’s*
- Cork and Cage
- Jimmy’s Barber Shop
- Michael Jewlers
- Minuteman Press
- ROAR Social House & HUSH
- Ruby’s Floral Factory
- Shula’s Steak House
- The Archive
- The Dime
- The Hamilton Kitchen & Bar
- The Moravian Book Shop
*The arena restaurants will validate on NON-event days or “hours” only–not during the event.
(If you’re interested, this is what I wrote about parking two days before the Eagles concert in September, 2014. It was updated once or twice since then, but was re-written to the above post sometime later as my experience downtown increased.)
I’ll be reporting back with my findings, of course, but let me share what I know so far about arena parking in Allentown:
- There’s no best way. With multiple parking decks, lots, and the like, there’s going to be no ‘best’ way to go to events downtown. If everyone tries to arrive on the same road, we’ll all be stuck. That said, we’ll start to learn for ourselves the best way to arrive and depart from our homes and offices–and how to save on the fees.
- There are enough spaces. Multiple studies have suggested that there will be more than enough parking spaces for the number of cars arriving for arena events. The key will be getting the cars to the open spaces–and it feels like the Parking Authority is already aware of that. We’ll see how they do with it. The Parking Authority does seem to be on top of this, if not a little ‘last minute.’
- It will be safe. I think. Police patrols on foot and on bikes will be present. Shuttles and trolleys will be available to help squire folks to and from the different decks and lots. Video monitoring will be in place all over. And, there’s safety in numbers: with so many folks arriving and leaving at the same general time, I anticipate a safety factor there, as well.
- It won’t be cheap. It feels a little like the City of Allentown is going to be in the business of parking: They’ll likely collect lots of parking fees with all of the events to be held at the arena. I hope they put it to good use. But remember, it’s not the Phantoms or the Arena in charge of parking, it’s the City of Allentown.
- Driving around looking could be a problem. The Parking Authority may have an app, and this map may be interactive, to try to help folks find the parking quickly, and not end up driving around the blocks close to the PPL Center Arena searching. That “searching” traffic will be a problem and will also be a hazard to those walking to the arena from their cars–not to mention inhibit shuttle speeds. My advice for those coming from out of town: Use the maps to find where you expect to park, then walk or shuttle to the arena. Do not GPS to the arena and THEN look for parking: That’s likely to be more frustrating as traffic right near the arena itself will be the worst. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised, given the above, if they start blocking off some of those blocks for pedestrians and shuttles. Add in the one-way streets and the pedestrians and, as I said, you’ll likely be frustrated. Follow the signs and park–then figure out a way to get to the arena (walk, shuttle, etc.)
- Oh yeah, the streets. I always forget that some of the streets are one-way. As I look at the map at the top of this page, and make a plan for where I’ll arrive and park, I end up with a useless plan because of the street limitations. The map at www.allentowneventparking.com does show the street directions. Google maps does, as well.
- Technology will help. Electronic fee collection, apps, real time space availability, and the like–will all help ease the confusion and the hassle of parking downtown. The map at allentowneventparking.com (above) IS interactive. Hover over the lot, and it should let you know how many spots are available there. I’m not sure how accurate it will be: If I see a schmuck with an abacus as I enter the garage, I’ll be less confident. 😉
- What will it cost? At Authority parking facilities, parking for concerts will be $10. For other events, parking will be $6, unless otherwise specified. But, the price of parking is subject to change without notice.
- Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs: Alternate title: “What’s with all the colors?” As you approach the arena zone in downtown, you’ll begin to see color-coated signs to guide you toward parking. If you are familiar with the map colors above, or if you have the interactive map loaded on your smart phone, it should help you locate parking quickly. The colors correspond to parking options within each quadrant of the zone. Again, my advice as we set out on this downtown adventure is: “Find parking and just park.” Don’t drive around looking for a better spot. That’s what’s going to sink this. We’ll get to “advanced strategies” later, as we all become more familiar with the goings on downtown.
- Pay on the way in: You’ll be asked for event parking fee on the way into the lot or deck you choose. There will be attendants on hand to assist you with finding a spot within that area. This should help with egress. It’s unclear to me at this time what happens with parking pass holders, folks still in downtown from the day, and what time the “event fee” kicks in. Normally, Allentown parking is “free after 6” but that won’t apply on event/hockey nights–although meter parking will be free after 6 if you get so lucky.
- There are designated areas within each authorized parking area for accessibility. Let the attendant know as you pay, and there should be other attendants to assist. I’m not sure if the accessible parking spots will be listed on the interactive map, but they should be. I know those spots go FAST at Coca Cola Park. Shuttles will be available to help get you to the arena. For those that don’t need it, my advice is: Park in a regular spot and walk. Make sure those spots, and the shuttle seats are available to assist those who require it. The exercise is good.
- How to Pay: Most street meters take coins or credit cards. Garages will accept cash or credit cards. “Park By Phone” is currently in Beta–at some point you MAY be able to pay for parking by using your smart phone.
- You Can Pre-Pay for Parking: Minutes ago, I received an email with a link to pre-purchase parking at the “Linden Street” garage for the Eagles concert. Now, I’m not sure that garage is the most convenient for the direction I’m coming. Plus, egress after the show may be difficult for me, so I’m not sure I’m going to pre-purchase. It’s a good idea for some, though! [note: this statement was made before I realized there were TWO “Linden St” garages…]
I’ll try to post some parking strategies in this space as I gain experience downtown. Stay tuned.