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March Madness in Buffalo: In the Arena and the Lots

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - First Niagara Center was engulfed in March Madness on Thursday.

But before it hit the court, the madness was in the parking lots where some fans were forced to pay $30, $40, even $60 to park near the arena.

Did visitors to Buffalo think they were being gouged?

"I kind of do," said one man after he parked his vehicle. "Typical events its usually $10 to $15, so I do feel that they're gouging a little bit."

"You really don't have a choice. It's gouging, but it's part of the deal," said another.

"It just sends a bad message to people when we're trying to roll out the red carpet", says Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz who took to Twitter about the issue Thursday afternoon.  Poloncarz went as far as contacting the New York State Attorney General's office to inquire whether the parking fees were "price gouging".  While the AG's office had received other complaints, they did say the parking rates as a result of the NCAA event were not 'actionable' and are 'legal'.

HEAR Poloncarz on the WBEN Liveline

Will anything change for Saturday's NCAA sessions?  Poloncarz says he expects the parking rates to again go up as March Madness fans fill the lots areound FIrst Niagara Center for the next rounds of games.

"It's not illegal, it's just one of those things that leaves a bad taste in your mouth", says Poloncarz.

Some people were dropped off at the arena to avoid paying higher fees. "A friend of mine dropped me off, but I saw a sign that said '$40 for parking,' which is a ripoff."

But not everyone agrees that private lots were ripping off customers. One man who paid $30 said it's simple supply and demand. "You know what, it's a big even and these guys have to make their money. I would've paid $40."

Inside the arena it was a different story though. The Buffalo games began with the first upset of the tournament as Dayton Squeaked by Ohio State, then Syracuse took the court in front of a first Niagara center decked out in Orange.

Syracuse won their game easily, leaving fans in Orange with a good feeling for their drive back home.

After the first session of games restaurants around the arena were packed, and people showing up for the evening games had some good news as well. Prices in the parking lots were back down to average prices, those lots charging $40 in the morning were looking for $20 after the Syracuse game.


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Topics : Sports
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Locations : BuffaloSyracuse
People : Dayton Squeaked
03/21/2014 6:22AM
March Madness in Buffalo: In the Arena and the Lots
Are parking lots right to hike prices for big events?
03/21/2014 7:08AM
It's the Republican way.
Hostility to the American consumer is the bedrock of right wing ideology. You people should be pleased.
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