A Vikings preseason game will bring about 65,000 fans to U.S. Bank Stadium on Friday night. A professional boxing match at the nearby Minneapolis Armory will bring a few thousand more. Add in a Twins game at Target Field and the University of Minnesota’s women’s volleyball season opening tournament at Target Center, and you’ve got a forecast for downtown gridlock.
Fans attending the four large sporting events will be arriving just as rush hour commuters are trying to get out of downtown. That will put an estimated 100,000 extra visitors on the streets to add to the congestion caused by construction blocking key incoming and outgoing routes.
Complicating matters is that 4th Street to Interstate 35W will be closed Friday night, meaning motorists heading north or south on I-35W will have to scoot over to Washington Avenue to get to the freeway.
Traffic jams could develop on other popular escape routes that include 6th Street to eastbound I-94 and 3rd Street N. to westbound I-94 and I-394.
City officials say they will have traffic control agents throughout downtown to try to keep both cars and pedestrians moving. Signals that see high volumes of traffic will be retimed to allow more vehicles than usual to move through. Dynamic message signs will help drivers navigate around snarls and let them know when key parking ramps fill up.
But the bottom line is that “these events will be drawing big crowds, so it’s a good idea to know your transportation options and plan ahead,” city spokesman Casper Hill said in a statement.
For those who drive, there are about 60,000 parking spots downtown. About 20,000 are public off-street ramps and lots, 5,500 are on-street (metered) and 34,500 are private off-street. The ABC Ramps near Target Center have approximately 6,500 spaces. Drivers are encouraged to check the signs to be sure of time limits and hours of enforcement of their parking space.
Metro Transit will run Blue Line and Green Line trains every 10 minutes after the Vikings game and will add extra light-rail trains as needed, said transit agency spokesman Drew Kerr.
One incoming Northstar train will depart Big Lake at 5:03 p.m. and leave one hour after the football game. Twins fans can catch an extra Northstar train 30 minutes after the end of the fireworks show taking place after the Twins-A’s game.
Aside from that, city officials suggest fans carpool, walk or bike to ease congestion.