Houston Community College managed to lose $39,475 selling parking spots at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this year.
This was no meager accomplishment, given that the Houston Rodeo draws more than 1.3 million in paid attendance and generates roughly a half-billion dollars in sales when it takes over South Houston for three weeks every March.
Since the rodeo fills NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans, the neighboring convention center (NRG Arena) and the parking lots around them, parking for the rodeo is always an adventure. It usually involves paying $10 or $20 at a distant lot, and riding a shuttle or the METRORail in.
HCC is well-positioned to exploit the situation. It has two lots right next to METRORail stops, and a willing partner in Metro. One lot is just up the line at the administration building at 3100 Main St., and the other is just north of the Loop at the HCC Northline campus.
Both lots lost money. According to HCC records, 228 vehicles used the parking garage on Main Street, producing a loss of $25,787 after expenses, which included an attendant and extra security.
If those numbers are correct, it means that fewer than 11 vehicles a day parked there, while HCC paid almost $1,300 per day in wages and related costs, and collected just $55 for parking each day. This is despite the Main lot charging just $5, in cash or credit, while lots elsewhere along the line charged $20.
The records do not indicate how much cash was turned in by the attendants.
The HCC Northline lot, which is twice as far away, had 1,863 vehicles park there, perhaps drawn by the fact that the $10 fee included rail tickets for everyone in the car. That lot posted a smaller loss of $13,688.
The HCC administration is planning not to use the Main lot in 2017 and reducing expenses in the hope of breaking even.