NEW ORLEANS - It's hard to ignore the excitement around the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on game day.

Thousands of Who Dats cheered on the Saints inside the Dome for the team's pre-season opener Friday.

But some fans say the biggest hits came outside the Dome, where fans dished out as much as $55 dollars for special event parking.

'That's what I pay for one ticket, $55! Whew,' exclaimed St. Bernard Saints fan Pete Morel.

'It's actually going to come to the point where it turns people away. They're not going to want to go and have to spend all this money to go watch a game,' said Bobby Gatewood, of Terrytown.

Gatewood said he paid $30 to park in a lot on S. Rampart and Girod for Friday's game. He said the special event rate was not visibly posted, and he was shocked when he went to pay.

On a normal day, the rate is much lower.

'Other people were making the comments saying, '$30 is ridiculous. It's highway robbery.' It's not fair to the people who have to go into the Dome and pay so much money for food and beverages along with going inside the Dome,' said Gatewood.

Gatewood said he paid $20 to park during games last year.

Some fans say the price of parking has become so high, they've decided not to go to games at all.

Pete Morel has been a season ticket holder for more than a decade. But this season he made the tough decision to sell his tickets.

'I sold all but two games this year because parking is just outrageous,' said Morel, of St. Bernard. 'I bleed black and gold, so it was hard to do, very hard to do.'

Morel said he's seen parking prices double in private lots near the dome in the last 10 years.

'It's better just to stay home and watch it when you can't afford to pay the parking,' said Morel. showed rates as high as 66 dollars for guaranteed parking in private lots near the Superdome for the next preseason home game, when the Saints take on the Raiders. The lowest rates were $13.20, for lots about half a mile away.

Meanwhile, those like Morel believe if parking prices continue to rise near the Dome, it could drive other Who Dats out, too.

Eyewitness News reached out to several parking companies who operate lots near the Dome, but has not yet heard back for comment.

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