OKLAHOMA CITY - Starting in 2019, all paved parking at the State Fairgrounds will come at a cost.
Officials say it will help with additional security, but some organizations are concerned about what the additional price will mean for attendees.
"We need to be more diligent in our efforts to try to protect the people who come out to the events at State Fair Park,” Scott Munz, a State Fair Park spokesperson, said.
State Fair Park officials are planning to add more security at events, enhanced lighting on paved parking areas and buses that will transport people between buildings. They have not set the cost per parking space.
The unpaved lots will still be free.
"An opportunity to be able to have enhanced safety risk management patrol options because in this day and age, we feel like it's important for us to know who, what and when people are on the property,” Munz said.
OKC Talk reports the City recently filed permits for added plazas and gates at four entrances where patrols will pay to park.
State Fair Park officials hope to start construction early next year.
But, some event organizers are concerned it will upset visitors to the fairgrounds.
"We have people of all economic backgrounds. Some of them can probably afford the upcharge, but you know it will be a burden on some of them to come,” Dale Yerigan, general manager for the International Professional Rodeo Association, said.
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association has hosted state tournaments at the Jim Norick Arena for 52 years. They think fans will still attend, but do think the parking charge will have an impact.
"I hope it can be worked out, but we will see. The bidding process is just that and this does change the dynamics a little bit,” David Glover, assistant director of OSSAA, said.
"If there's a better opportunity somewhere, you certainly have to look at that and frankly, this is a negative on the fairgrounds that they're going to start charging for parking,” Yerigan said.
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