Hurricanes Promise Traffic Improvements at New Arena
Posted October 31, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — Opening night at the Entertainment and Sports Arena had exciting action, thrilling competition and some traffic problems.
One problem at the drop of the historic first puck at theCarolina Hurricanes'home opener Oct. 29was that thousands of fans were stuck in traffic.
They were bogged down, backed up and barely moving especially on Wade Avenue and Edwards Mill Road.
"You couldn't move. I kept looking at the speedometer, and I was never more than five miles an hour," said fan Mike Wickham.
Gale Force Holdings which owns the Hurricanes and runs the arena says the big plan for a sell-out crowd on opening night just did not work.
"We had traffic consultants hired. We had all the people say 'Here's where you need to put people. Here's how it's going to work.' We found out we need to increase our manpower," said Dave Olsen of Gale Force Holdings.
The first increase is more workers in the parking lots. The money takers were overwhelmed early which started the traffic bottlenecks.
Many fans said the counter-flow traffic lights did not do enough to help the traffic coming in. At the next game, more lanes will be open for the majority flow, most likely four lanes instead of three.
Gale Force calls opening night a "learning experience" and promises to re-group after the traffic troubles.
"My own family didn't get here until 8 p.m. opening night. It happened to a lot of people, and we apologize for that, but we ask for patience and let you know we're going to get at it. We just came out of a staff meeting to address all the issues. Now we're off and running again," said Olsen.
Many fans just hope that at the next game the traffic is running.