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Fallout from Celine Dion concert

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on Oct. 23, 2008 at 1:59 pm with No Comments »
October 23, 2008 1:59 pm

We had a news item earlier about the parking and traffic problems from Saturday’s Celine Dion concert at the Tacoma Dome.

Here’s a first-hand report sent in by reader Len Barrett:

The Celine Dion concert on Saturday night was a reminder that Tacoma is not quite ready for prime time. It has been known for months that this concert was coming. Yet the lack of adequate parking, inefficient traffic control and incompetent dome staff made for a most unsatisfactory experience.

We arrived at 23rd and Pacific at about 7:15 PM after a wait of about 25 minutes to get to that point. As we got closer to the dome, the police directed us further away from the dome, specifically down the hill on D street to Puyallup Avenue.

As long distance walking is not feasible for this writer and handicap parking was apparently not available my passengers jumped out and walked to the dome while I drove around trying to find parking that might work.

It did not happen. I stayed with the car and parked on D Street near Johnny’s Dock restaurant and waited for friends and family to come out of the concert.

When we met after the concert, they told me how three different Dome staff members had directed them in three different directions to get to their seats. As they approached the dome, a staff member standing on the sidewalk directed them to the upper level ramp. When they got to the door, staff directed them to the lower level. When they got to the door at the lower level, they were redirected back to the upper level.

It would appear that Tacoma at many different levels is not ready to handle large crowds who want to attend events at the Dome. I can tell you that it will be a very long time, if ever, that this family ever buys a ticket to attend any event at the dome.

FRIDAY UPDATE: We just received a response back from city public assembly facilities director Mike Combs, with an explanation and some suggestions for future events.

On behalf of The Tacoma Dome, I would like to respond to complaints regarding traffic and parking for the Celine Dion concert on October 18. We appreciate the opportunity to hear everyone’s feedback and will proactively work to address problems that may have occurred. Unfortunately on this evening, 20,000 people arrived within a short period of time thereby creating a traffic crunch around the Dome. The situation was exacerbated by the large number of attendees who where attending The Tacoma Dome for the first time and were not familiar with the area plus Pacific Avenue was reduced to one lane for construction between 21st to Puyallup Avenue.

We try to be as proactive as we can for large concerts in order to reduce traffic congestion around the venue. We coordinated with Sound Transit to provide roundtrip Sounder service from Seattle which they promoted on their trains as well as on their website. We also worked closely with Tacoma Link to extend their hours to midnight which provided easy access to and from downtown for event goers. This was all promoted on our website as well as emailed out to our Dome Direct database of 100,000 member’s days in advance.

In the future, we suggest concert goers check our website for traffic and parking alerts. Most importantly, please make sure you give yourself enough time to get here. For large events the Dome parking lots are generally full before the doors open and alternate parking opportunities can be found downtown along the Link light rail system. We strongly suggest coming early and taking advantage of the many dining and parking opportunities in downtown Tacoma. LINK can then provide easy access to and from the venue. Sounder will continue to run special "concert" trains for major events stopping along their regular route from Seattle to Tacoma.

We apologize for the unpleasant experience some concert-goers had and will be meeting with our neighbors, Tacoma Police, Sound Transit and Tacoma Link to discuss how we can improve traffic and parking flow in the future. We value all feedback from our guests and will continue to work towards improving everyone’s experiences while attending events here at The Tacoma Dome.

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