By Matt Lindner
For Sun-Times Media
Parking in and around Soldier Field’s world-famous tailgating lots isn’t for everyone, at least financially.
For Thursday night’s tilt against the New York Giants, parking passes are approaching $100 on the secondary market.
Which is why SpotHero co-founder Jeremy Smith says he’s hoping to offer a tailgating experience at a fraction of the price.
SpotHero, a website and app that lets users locate and lock in a parking spot, is selling reserved spaces in an outdoor lot owned by USA Parking at 412 S. Dearborn, about 2 miles from Soldier Field. Alcohol and tailgating are allowed, and spots go for $20 for each game for the rest of the season.
Fans can arrive two hours before kickoff, giving them a full seven hours to enjoy the game and any extracurricular activities in the South Loop. They also get shuttle service to and from the parking lot.
Official Soldier Field parking, which can be reserved on Standard Parking’s Click and Park site, ranges from $106 for a spot by the Adler Planetarium to $30 near 31st Street Beach (no booze, no shuttle).
So SpotHero seems like a pretty good deal, provided you can find it.
Merely typing in “Chicago Bears” into the site’s search engine won’t lead you there.
A SpotHero spokesman says you have to choose the 412 S. Dearborn lot and then set your times from 5:25 p.m. (that’s two hours before game time) to seven hours later to get the $20 deal.
While $20 for seven hours of Loop parking may seem too good to be true, Smith says it’s brand-loyalty at play.
“If they didn’t use SpotHero, they wouldn’t know that location even existed,” he says. “This is our way of being able to bring somebody good and we want them to keep using our platform.”
Smith says SpotHero receives a commission on every spot — there are upward of 200 — sold through the platform.
But what does USA Parking get in discounting precious Loop parking spaces?
A sure thing, Smith says.
“Every time a spot is empty, [USA Parking is] not able to generate a single dollar from their parking spot. … They will always want to get to a point where they can fill it up,” he says. “Being able to actively take reservations gives them a way of understanding how many people will be coming so they can do some of their planning if they need to do any type of staffing.”