Parking open at Astroworld lot, but not so fast says Reliant

HOUSTON He's leased the old Astroworld lot and wants you to park there for $20. But we found out the stadium isn't too eager to have a new neighbor.

The old Astroworld is a fixture so many Houstonians can see without looking.

"I still see it. The big one was right there," said Kent Maree.

Today, it's just a dirt field; no more roller coasters, no more fun. The few reminders of what was here are tired, old, and almost past any useful life.

"I would love to ride that ride again," Maree said.

But Maree does see something here - his childhood paradise will be a parking lot this weekend for the biggest game of the year.

"Parking passes on the internet are going anywhere from $100 to $250," he said.

A spot in his lot, right across from the stadium, is $20.

"Do I spend $20 across the street or do I buy a blue parking pass for $250?" Maree asked.

And remember that old bridge to Astroworld? It's still there. You could walk right to the stadium and avoid all dodging or stopping, all that feeder road traffic below. If the people that run Reliant Stadium would unlock their gate.

"I don't want to promote that parking area," said Mark Miller of SMG Reliant Park.

But the stadium doesn't want to do that.

"We don't think we need to open the bridge. We don't want to encourage people parking over there. We think it adds more traffic," said Miller.

They promise us that keeping the publicly owned gate closed has nothing to do with competition and everything to do with keeping traffic moving. They say cars over there would slow down people coming in here.

"His parking is going to damage my traffic. His efforts are going to damage my efforts and I don't want to do that," Miller said.

With or without the gate, Maree will open his lot. He did it two weeks ago and months ago for the rodeo, and he's hoping to convince the Texans he can help.

"I want to be the good neighbor. I want to be like, 'Hey guys whatever you want me to do, I will do,'" said Maree.

The property's been vacant since 2006 and will likely be vacant until the economy turns around. As for the publicly owned gate, so far there's no plan for the stadium managers to open it up.

If you don't have pre-paid parking for Sunday's game and want to park at the old Astroworld, there are three entrances off the South Loop feeder between Kirby and Fannin and one more off Kirby south of the Loop.

Click here to see a map of the parking lot at the old Astroworld.

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