Pedestrians at this summer’s College World Series will be better protected by new permanent security barriers — and those who park near the event will help pay for them.
Parking fees for some public lots near the CWS will increase to $15 this year, a $5 bump from previous years. That increase in part will help pay for the “top of the line” barriers that protect crowds from vehicles, said Kristyna Engdahl, the spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority, known as MECA.
The increase — part of an agreement among MECA, the city and College World Series of Omaha Inc. — applies only to lots controlled by MECA, the local entity that manages TD Ameritrade Park and the CHI Health Center.
The increase was approved Tuesday by the Omaha City Council.
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Year-round parking fees near the CHI Health Center also will go up this year after the CWS ends. As of July 1, the surface lot rate at lots A, B, C and D will increase to $10 from $8, Engdahl said. The cost to park in the CHI Health Center garage, when available to the public, will rise to $15 from $10.
The CWS parking rate had been at $10 for a decade, Engdahl said. During that time, MECA had been absorbing higher labor costs and greater staffing needs associated with parking, she said. The money generated by the increases will help to cover those costs in addition to the cost of the barriers, which could top $10 million.
The year-round increase, too, will go to the barriers and increasing labor costs.
MECA is working to secure money from other sources, such as private donors and ballpark-related capital improvement funds, to help pay for the barriers.
The U.S. Homeland Security Department worked with MECA to identify the locations that need the protections, officials have said. Many of the barriers are expected to be decorated and disguised.
During the CWS, temporary security barriers will be placed along the west side of 10th Street to protect people waiting in the general admission area, Engdahl said. The devices also will be used along Mike Fahey Street to protect those in the Fan Fest area.
The first set of permanent barriers should be in place in front of the CHI Health Center by the time of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual gathering May 2, MECA officials have said. More will be installed later in 2020.