Sneed: Beware of parking scams near United Center

Written By By MICHAEL SNEED Posted: 04/25/2014, 02:21am

Now U.C. your car. Now you don’t.

Playoff payoff . . .

Sneed hears park-and-pay scammers broadsided dozens of sports fans exiting the Bulls and Blackhawks playoffs at the United Center this week.

“Twice this week, fans were really keyed off when they learned their cars had been towed after being directed to park their cars in overflow lots that turned out to be illegal,” said a United Center source.

Let’s back up.

At Monday night’s Blackhawks game, Sneed is told scammers directed fans to park at a school parking lot at 2040 W. Adams — quickly taking cash from fans as they waved them into a lot usually locked with a chain, which was missing.

“When dozens of fans came back for their cars after the game, they were gone — more than 30 cars had been towed for illegal parking,” said the United Center source.

◆ The kicker: While the United Center has official parking lots surrounding the stadium, fans can also legally park in lots operated by assorted independent owners for a few bucks less.

◆ The buckshot: “Some of those lots are repeatedly criticized for their lack of paving, handicap spots, ornamental fencing and other basic parking lot requirements — and don’t come with the same lighting or security provided at the official lots,” said the source.

◆ The foul shot: Although those independent lots are legal, scammers have found a way to “jump into traffic and wave unsuspecting fans into illegal parking areas next to or near the legal independent lots, pocket the cash and disappear before the game ends,” added the United Center source.

◆ “When fans find their car gone, they’re understandably angry . . . and they call here and there is nothing we can do for them,” said the source, who added, “Massive crowds pouring into the United Center for Bulls and Blackhawks playoff games this week, providing the city with a windfall of tax dollars taken from parking, merchandise sales and the nation’s highest ticket tax.”

◆ Hmmm. Why do I think a little legislation corralling the scammers may be in the offing?

Stay tuned.

Obama drama . . .

Hmmmmmm: Now that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced plans to build Barack Obama College Preparatory High School on the city’s Near North Side — will he appoint Fenger Academy High School principal Liz Dozier, a CNN “Chicagoland” series star and Rahm favorite, as the school’s first chief administrator when it opens in 2017?

Tittle tattle . . .

◆ Flower power: Now comes word R&B singer Brandy kept her corsage from her prom date 18 years ago with Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant, just before he was drafted by the NBA. She told TMZ her mother is doing the safekeeping.

◆ Gere steer: Actor Richard Gere, starring as a homeless man in the flick “Time Out of Mind,” was so convincing to an onlooker during a break filming in New York — she handed him food in an “I Love NY” plastic bag, according to the Big Apple tabloid press. Believe it? Hardly.

◆ Blonde bond: Click. Click. Legendary turfman Tiger Woods was photographed sitting between ex-wife Elin Nordegren and girlfriend Lindsey Vonn during a baseball game this weekend in Florida.

I spy . . .

Actor Sean “Will and Grace” Hayes stopped in for a drink at RL’s bar Tuesday . . . and Arizona Diamondbacks All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, in town to play the Cubs, was spotted lunching with his agent Tuesday at Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch at Water Tower Place . . . and Blackhawk Patrick Kane was spotted for the second day in a row Monday dining on chicken parmesan at Rosebud on Rush.

Sneedlings . . .

Friday’s birthdays: Al Pacino, 74; Renee Zellweger, 45, and Bill Nolan, 79.

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