Better Call Behnken: Fake parking citations cause confusion at Amalie Arena

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — If you park in a lot controlled by SPP Parking LLC, backed by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, you could end up with something that looks way too much like an official parking ticket.

“It is so close to a real ticket,” said Rich Bahret, who found one of these neon-pink notices on his vehicle last weekend.

Bahert took his children, along with their peewee hockey team to Amalie arena. They played a game and then stayed to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning play.

They used an app to pay for their parking, which is what they were supposed to do. Then, they enjoyed their night.

“My son plays youth hockey, and the Tampa Bay Lightning is spectacular for youth hockey,” Bahret said. “We did a fundraiser there, and my kids were able to play on the ice, just like they were the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was a great event.”

But the night went downhill when he found a neon pink “Parking Notice” on his truck, with a bill for $25. Bahret worked in law enforcement for nearly 30 years. At first, he thought he had received an official City of Tampa ticket, enforced by state law. But a closer look made him question that.

The ticket even lists the initials of an “officer.” But when he tracked down the parking enforcement office, he learned was no officer, just a parking attendant.

“They’re just stressing people into to try to pay,” Bahret said.

Bahret had no idea who was responsible for this parking notice, and feared others may pay even if they don’t owe for parking. He added that 10 other parents on his son’s team received these notices on the same night.

Better Call Behnken determined that the ticket money was to go to a group called SPP Parking LLC in Denver. After some digging, we found that group is part of Stategic Property Partners, the real estate group backed by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment.

SPP recently acquired control of this parking lot and others in downtown Tampa, near the arena.

SPP sent this statement to Better Call Behnken:

While we expect people to pay current rates for parking in the lots that we control, we are in a testing phase. We’ve already learned a good deal—this incident included—and we will make changes from what we learn. Our parking enforcement can be handled another way, and we are looking into how to improve.”

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