The nightmare that is trying to find a decent parking and tailgating spot for University of Michigan football games might get a little less awful this fall.
A pair of Wolverine faithful, Jason Kapica and Taylor Bond, have launched park nparty.com, which allows fans to reserve a parking space (including tailgating locations) at four lots near Michigan Stadium.
Price options on the site’s menu are for spaces that are less than $5 and less than $20 per spot.
From the menus, users can choose the lot’s distance from the event (less then 1 or 2 miles) and amenities such as bathrooms, picnic tables, asphalt, gravel and dirt surface choices, electrical hookups and RV parking availability.
Lot owners must agree to terms to use the site and pay a per-event fee to the website that begins at $25 for the first 50 parking spaces and $5 for every 10 spaces over that. So a lot with 60 spaces, for example, would cost the lot owner $30 to list on the website.
Parknparty.com processes the space rentals online, customers print a ticket that they show to lot attendants, and lot owners get a check after the game.
Currently, four lots near Michigan Stadium are listed for Ann Arbor — including 1,800 spaces at the Ann Arbor Golf and Outing Club. Plans are to add lots in Detroit; East Lansing; Columbus, Ohio; and Madison, Wis., for the upcoming college football season and eventually add all of the Big Ten Conference schools, Kapica said. He’s in talks to add more Ann Arbor lots, too.
The point is to make it not only easier to find a parking spot but also to allow friends and family to tailgate near each other.
“A lot of times you show up at one parking lot, then you get on your phone and call your friends to find where they are,” Kapica said. Fans will pay a little more if they can reserve a spot ahead of time, he said.
Arts, Beats & Eats larger than Chicago’s food fest
This year’s Ford Arts, Beats & Eats will showcase 70 restaurants, a 25 percent increase from last year, making the “eats” portion of the event larger than the famed Taste of Chicago‘s 59 participating restaurants this year.
The 14th annual event is expected to draw 423,000 people to downtown Royal Oak over Labor Day weekend
But if the weather cooperates, attendance could swell to 500,000, said Jon Witz, the event’s executive producer.
The event has grown so large that AT&T and Verizon Wireless are putting up temporary cell phone towers to handle the increased volume.
“That’s when you know you have arrived,” Witz said. “It’s like we are our own city.”
The festival generated an estimated $15 million in spending in Royal Oak and $39 million for metro Detroit, a number expected to grow 10 percent this year, organizers said.
This year’s festival includes the finals of a four-round “Iron Chef”-style competition called The Duel. Eight local chefs will create an appetizer, entrée and dessert from a secret ingredient unveiled at the start of the competition.
The chefs competing include John Golen from Atlas Global Bistro; Reva Bell-Constantine from Joe’s Produce & Gourmet Market; Raven Crane from The Majestic Café; Paul Maxon from Ronin Sushi; Brandon Wolschleger from Table 5; Steven Grostick from Toasted Oak Grill; Jim Bologna from The Townsend Hotel; and Marc Djozlija from Wolfgang Puck MGM Grand.
The winner will receive a cash prize of up to $10,000.
Also new this year is BBQ Alley, between Third and Fourth streets, which will have smoked meats from local restaurants including Lockhart’s BBQ, The Oxford Inn and Smokin’ Joe’s BBQ.
Ford House to turn up jazz
Big Band jazz will return to the grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House along Lake St. Clair this Friday, taking visitors back to the grand parties the couple held at the estate in the 1930s and 1940s when the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra often performed.
The house and the Detroit Jazz Festival are co-presenting the Johnny Trudell Orchestra to meet patrons’ requests for more live music at Ford House, the historic nonprofit venue said.
The performance will build on the success of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra concerts the past two summers and serve as a prelude to the jazz festival over Labor Day Weekend.
Plans call for “Jazz at Ford House” — which is sponsored by Gretchen Valade‘s Dirty Dog Jazz Café, Beaumont Hospital-Grosse Pointe and Huntington National Bank – to expand next summer with the series being held the fourth Friday of June, July and August.
Tickets at the gate are $20 for general admission and $25 for preferred seating. They are in advance for $15 general admission. For details, visit www.jazzfordhouse.eventbrite.com.