Cavalry soccer club scrambles to improve fans' access to Spruce Meadows
New entry points and free shuttles among solutions as club adjusts after traffic woes
Calgary's new pro soccer team plays its second game Wednesday and many fans are left wondering how early they need to leave to avoid the parking nightmare that marred the debut match last Saturday.
Cars were backed up on Highway 22X to the point that many fans missed the first half of the game and others turned around and headed home rather than witness the team's 2-1 win against York9 FC.
Ian Allison, president and COO of Spruce Meadows Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Cavalry, said part of the problem was that the intersection at Tournament Lane and Highway 22X has been removed as part of the southwest ring road project.
"I would like to apologize to those that were caught in the congestion and the new traffic patterns that we're all dealing with in the south extreme of the city," Allison told the Calgary Eyeopener. "We've taken measures since that game to try and improve egress and access to the Spruce Meadows parking lot."
There are now four new places to enter the grounds, and the facility will be open two hours before game-time Wednesday, which is 7 p.m.
"With any luck at all, the congestion will be greatly, greatly reduced coming onto the site," Allison said.
The club does offer free shuttles from the Somerset-Bridlewood C-Train station to bring fans to the facility on the southern edge of the city. Allison said roughly 500 fans took the shuttle on Saturday.
"My advice is if you have access to the LRT, to take it to the Bridlewood/Somerset LRT station and take our complimentary shuttle," Allison said. "Likewise, there are a number of pubs in town that are offering their bus services out to Spruce Meadows."
On Saturday, some buses had to stop and let people out at the side of the highway, leaving them to make their way on foot. Fans tweeted their displeasure.
"I think it caught some people off guard with the 24th Street and formerly Tournament Lane no longer being open with the southwest Calgary ring road," Allison said.
"People who rely on Google Maps, that takes them right to the front door of Spruce Meadows, which was an access point for event days. So we've been monitoring all of the feedback — and believe me, there has been plenty."
Allison repeated his apologies to fans and added he hopes to have it rectified for Wednesday's game against Winnipeg's Valour FC.
"I think we can solve this," he said. "We are going through some construction pains.… The inconvenience is temporary and the improvement will be permanent."
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.