ST. PETERSBURG — The company that operates the McNulty Parking Garage, where hundreds found themselves waiting for hours Saturday night trying to escape, has a message for those who were trapped inside:
They’re really sorry about what happened.
“We acknowledge that mistakes were made that led to the traffic problem, and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to Rowdies fans and other guests of the garage who were affected,” said 717 Parking Enterprises in a statement sent to the Tampa Bay Times. “We have taken steps to ensure that similar problems are avoided in the future.”
The company said it will also offer free parking at the garage at 101 Second St. S for the next Tampa Bay Rowdies’ home game on March 30. Visitors must park in the garage between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. to take advantage of that offer.
READ HOW IT STARTED: She led the great St. Pete parking garage revolt. Then she was arrested.
Saturday’s brouhaha made news headlines and social media feeds not just because of the long line of traffic waiting to escape the garage — but also because of the woman who tried to do something about it and ended up in handcuffs.
Kathryn Socash, 63, of Clearwater, was attending her first Rowdies game and parked in the McNulty garage. After leaving the sold-out game, and after it took two hours to move from the fifth to the fourth floor, she walked down to the exit to find out what was taking so long.
There, she said she saw just one parking attendant on duty collecting money at the exit. She also spotted another gate closed by a flimsy wooden gate that said “24HR VIDEO $50 FOR BROKEN GATE.” She told the Tampa Bay Times it seemed like a small price to pay to stop feeling like a “hostage.” So she broke it.
Garage management and St. Petersburg police officers thought otherwise. Socash was arrested Saturday on a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct and booked into the Pinellas County jail.
Officers said that, in addition to breaking the gate, an irate Socash was also jumping up and down, pointing at the parking garage manager and yelling. She was “screaming to the already upset crowd that (the manager) was the person that could get them out of the parking garage,” the report said.
The Rowdies don’t have a say in how the garage operates, but in response has offered free tickets to an upcoming game of their choice later this month or in April to anyone who has a McNulty garage parking receipt from Saturday.
The statement from 717 Parking, which manages the garage for the owner, did not say what went wrong Saturday, or why one attendant was working St. Patrick’s Day weekend with more than 7,200 at a soccer game at Al Lang Stadium.
“As a locally owned and operated company for over 30 years in the Tampa Bay area, we pride ourselves on providing parking services that exceed service expectations to our customers and the entire community,” the company said. “We understand that these expectations of quality service which customers have come to expect from our organization were not met on this night.”
Contact McKenna Oxenden at email@example.com. Follow @mack_oxenden.