Ottawa learning from Winnipeg football stadium gridlock
RedBlacks planning to speak with Blue Bombers officials to avoid traffic snarls in 2014
The Ottawa RedBlacks don't want fans seeing red when they drive, bus or take a taxi to the new, redeveloped Lansdowne Park for the 2014 home opener.
That's why the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group and the City of Ottawa have been actively assessing parking and transportation, knowing it will be difficult in the already condensed Glebe neighbourhood.
If the nation’s capital needed a reminder about how important the issue is, last week's pre-season game at the brand new Investors Group Field in Winnipeg was it.
It was the stadium’s first major sporting event and all 28,000 seats were filled. The football team also estimated 5,200 people would use public trasit to get there.
But as it turned out, about 8,500 people tried to use public transit, causing bus delays and traffic back-ups.
Jeff Hunt, who runs the sports side of OSEG, said he has watched the fallout in Winnipeg and hopes to get in touch with the football club.
"We're going to hopefully learn from it and ensure that we don't have something similar happen when we open," said Hunt, who also owns the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League. That team plays at Lansdowne Park as well.
Lansdowne trek is nothing new
Hunt pointed out fans and residents have driven to Lansdowne Park for many years, so the trek is nothing new. It gives a bit of hope to organizers.
"That makes me a little more comfortable knowing we're not opening a stadium in a place that never had a stadium before. It's been there for years," said Hunt.
The City of Ottawa continues to develop its own traffic, transit and parking plans for big events at Lansdowne Park.
Parking and traffic have always been a frustration at Frank Clair Stadium, though. Its neighbours were actively against a new football team, too.