After the Rice-UH game at Reliant last Sunday there was a fair amount of complaining by fans about the parking and traffic situation. Turns out they had even worse problems for the opening Texans game.
"It took us an hour to circle around and park — they wouldn't let us in," said Bryce Miller of Spring, a club seat ticket holder who had a permit to park in the Blue Lot. "It's kind of annoying when it's prepaid parking."
Miller and other Blue Lot parkers said they exited westbound South Loop at Fannin Street and then were forced by police to turn right onto Fannin instead of proceeding straight to Kirby, where the lot's entrance is located.
They said it was a disaster to get over to Main and reach Kirby from the west side. And once they got in the lot, many club and suite patrons found the reserved parking area full and had to park in the far corner along with Six Flags AstroWorld customers.
"It only took us 15 minutes to reach the Fannin exit but then more than an hour to get in the Blue Lot," said Shaun Austin, who drove up from Pearland. "They are closing off the roads at the wrong spots."
Maps sent by the Texans to Blue Lot permit holders instruct fans coming from the east to "avoid delays" by exiting the Loop at Fannin, staying on the frontage road and turning right on Kirby. The traffic headaches frustrated some season-ticket holders, who described last year's parking as more efficient.
"I want a refund," said an irate John Wald of Spring, walking toward the stadium 55 minutes after kickoff. "Those three cops made everyone turn. We couldn't go straight. We sat for two hours."
Fans parking in other lots said they also got stuck in the congestion around the stadium.
More than 5,000 football fans crammed MetroRail trains Sunday in the first NFL regular season test of the Main Street line.
Riders, several on board for the first time, had mostly favorable reviews of the new way to get to Houston Texans contests. Metro said about 5,100 took the rail to Reliant Park, 7 percent of the 70,255 people who had tickets to the game.
The passenger count Sunday, while higher than the Metropolitan Transit Authority's initial projection of 4,500, was down 19 percent from ridership of 6,262 to the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys last month.
Richard Zook of River Oaks had a $20 Red Lot parking permit that came with the tickets he bought. But he decided to park instead at his downtown office tower Sunday and hop on the light rail with his 8-year-old son, John, and a friend of his son instead.
"It saves time and trouble by taking the train," Zook said. "I've parked at the stadium in the past and getting in there can be a nightmare."
I work near Reliant, and I know how nasty the traffic can be around there when there's a big event. The problem is that there's only so many routes you can take, and getting out of the parking lots themselves can take forever. I grew up taking the #4 train to Yankee Stadium, so taking the light rail line to a Texans game would be a natural for me. We'll see if more fans take that message away after this week.
I will say this: I'm surprised that a normally well-run operation like the Texans, especially in their third year of existence, could screw up Game One like this. Very much not what you'd expect.Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 13, 2004 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack