With the most expensive parking rates in Canada, free parking in Calgary is hard to come by. But it’s there. If you really look.
I hate paying for parking. $20 to leave your car on some pavement for a few hours while you check out a game, concert, or event?
That’s what it costs to park at the Calgary Saddledome. You pass through those Calgary Stampede gates and you get to park right next to the front door of the arena, but you’re crowded in with thousands of others. It may seem convenient at the beginning of the night when everyone arrives at staggered times, but when the buzzer goes and the game is over, everyone wants out at the same time and it’s absolute gridlock.For this privilege, you’ve paid $20. Or more. No thanks, I’d rather walk 3 blocks and park for free.
If you can handle walking a few blocks to the Calgary Saddledome for a hockey game or concert, or just 2 blocks to events at the BMO Center, it’s very easy to find free parking near the Saddledome and Stampede grounds in Calgary.
There are 3 options:
1. Park at Cowboy’s Casino
There is heated underground parking at Cowboy’s Casino, which is a short 2 block walk from the Saddledome and right next to the BMO Centre. It’s easy to grab a spot here, take the elevator up to the casino floor and take a spin around to play a few games before or after the big game. (I like after, if you stay away from the heroin beers, the place is packed with people who weren’t so wise and there is lots of dead money to pick up in the poker room.
The ridiculous part about this free parking option is it is covered by PAY options. It’s $20 or more to park outside in the parking lot, but it’s free if you stroll down the ramp early enough to grab a spot.
2. 11th Ave SE. That’s it. Park there.
This is usually what we do. Again, after 6p there is free street parking all around Victoria Park and it is very easy to find a spot on the street. You can also try 12th Ave SE, 10th Ave SE, 4th SE, or 5th SE. Drive right past the people waving placards to park in a lot for 20 bucks, and pull up to the curb to park for free.
Yes, it is a 4 block walk instead of 1 or 2, but when the game is over, you’re not sitting bumper to bumper with the thousands of cars trying to get out of the one or two exits from the Stampede grounds.
3. Park downtown and take the C Train
The street parking is free after 6p, so you can easily find a spot along Stephen Ave, or near the Bow Tower to hop aboard at the Centre St station to take the 2 blocks to the Saddledome. The CTrain is free in the downtown core, the Stampede Park station is one stop outside this zone, so you’ll have buy a ticket, or risk a fine.
It’s not really free, but grabbing a Car2Go does let you park for free near the grounds. You have to pay to use the car each way, but many people like to use this as the opening end of their night out when they’re going to be having a few drinks. The only downside? You’re now fighting with everyone else to get a cab home.
Do you have any tips to find free parking near the Saddledome, BMO Centre, or Calgary Stampede? Let me know in the comments.