The throngs of drunk people wearing band T-shirts stumbling in and out of Sports Authority Field are a telltale sign that summer concert season has taken over Denver — and parking near or on Federal Boulevard is going to be a nightmare.
There's a lot to know about parking at Sports Authority Field, including how to have the patience of a monk as you sit for an eternity waiting to snail your way into an overcrowded lot, how to avoid tickets, how to avoid traffic jams, how to avoid scammers, and how not to be a first-rate jerk.
With Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello and Charlie XCX playing the venue today, May 25, at a concert that will ensure that the west side is a traffic nightmare, here are five things you need to know about parking at, or near, Sports Authority Field.
1. Watch out for parking restrictions if you're not parking in the Sports Authority lots.
Denver's Right of Way Enforcement agents promise to be placarding the surrounding neighborhoods with clear signage, letting Swifties (or their parents) know where they can and can't park. If it says don't, guess what? Don't.
2. Don't park on a neighborhood street if you don't have a residential parking permit.
The folks who live around Sports Authority Field suffer the grotesque antics of football and music fans alike, put up with the traffic, and hose the vomit off their sidewalks. If there's one thing you can do to make their lives easier – and avoid being justifiably towed or ticketed — it's park where you're supposed to park. If a street requires a residential permit and you don't have the correct one, don't leave your car there.
3. If you live in the neighborhood, make sure your permits are up to date.
We get it: It can take months to remember to fill out the paperwork or go online and update your parking permits. Procrastination is a universal plague. But, please, if you live in the neighborhood and already deal with the horror show that is the modern fan, do yourself a favor and avoid getting ticketed simply because you didn't update your permit. Need info about how? Call 311 or go to the city website.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
4. Don't rip off disabled people's parking spots.
Seriously. Don't. If you see a handicap parking spot and you don't have the correct placard, that spot is not for you. Period. No matter how crowded it is. If you are going to park in handicap parking at the stadium, you're going to need to prove you are deserving and have updated handicap placard registration. Again, if this applies to you, quit procrastinating. Fill out that paperwork.
5. Scammers might sell you illegal parking spots.
Here's a disturbing fact. Some of the people charging fans for unofficial open lots don't have the right to do so. In other words, you might pay some glad-handing entrepreneur to get a nearby parking spot, and by the time the concert is over, your car will have been ticketed, towed or blocked in by another Swifty. The city is trying to crack down on this nefarious scheme and has a couple guidelines that might help you avoid throwing your money away twice — once to the scam artist and another time to the parking enforcers. First, don't park in a spot that doesn't have a special City and County of Denver sign. Second, only park in a lot managed by an aboveboard company. If something smells fishy, it's probably fish.
6. Ditch car culture. Bike or take public transit.
If you want to save yourself money, a headache and a possible ticket, don't drive. Bike or take the bus or light rail. For more info on how to use public transit, go to the RTD website or call 303-299-6000. If you want to figure out the best bike route in, head to your nearest rec center or City Council office and pick up the city's bike map.
If you have more questions about Sports Authority Field or the gory realities of parking there, go to the Sports Authority at Mile High website.