You are sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Figueroa Street, hoping to get to the Coliseum by kickoff time. You're running late and by game time, there isn't a parking spot left. So, in desperation, you pull into a guy's driveway and beg him to let you park there--whatever it costs. After all, it's the season's first Raider home game Sunday.
Want to know how to avoid such problems during the fall Raider and USC football crunch at the Coliseum? Read on.
TRAFFIC--Avoid the standard exits to the Coliseum from the freeways. Located south of the USC campus, the stadium is bordered to the north by Exposition Boulevard; south by Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; east by Figueroa Street; west by Vermont Avenue. The Los Angeles Police Department and the California Highway Patrol suggest exiting on Western or Normandie avenues from the Santa Monica Freeway, instead of Vermont; and from Slauson or Vernon avenues on the Harbor Freeway instead of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard or Exposition. Several police and transportation agencies have put together a map with alternate routes.
BUSES--The RTD has no special game buses. But, if you get to downtown Los Angeles, there are two regular route buses that will take you to the Coliseum. Catch the No. 40 at 5th Street and Broadway. It will take you to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Figueroa. Or, get on the No. 81 at 5th and Hill. It goes west on 5th and south on Figueroa. Both buses return on the same route. The buses run about every five minutes. RTD estimates each of those routes takes about 20 minutes to the Coliseum. Don't bet on it on game days.
PARKING--Once you get there, the problem will be parking, unless you decide to arrive an hour or more early, or have a prearranged place to park. The Coliseum holds 92,604 fans, but has parking spaces for only 6,000 cars. There are an additional 4,500 spaces--$6 a space--in USC lots that may be entered from Vermont (Gate 6), Jefferson (Gate 5) or Exposition (Gate 1). Most left-hand turns into parking lots are restricted.
There are seven stadium parking lots--$5 for cars; $15 for buses and RVs. Lot 2 on Menlo Avenue, the only one of the Coliseum lots that accepts buses and RVs and has parking spaces for the handicapped, opens five hours before game time; all the others, three hours. USC lots also open three hours before game time. The university lots usually don't fill up for Raider games, but there is very little public parking available on campus during USC games.
There is almost no free parking in the stadium area, unless you have a parking pass for the Museum of Science and Industry lot (hard to get) or are issued a parking permit for either the North or South Coliseum drives. Those are hard to get too, unless you're a bigwig booster of the Raiders or an influential USC alum.
Don't Park on the Street
Whatever you do, don't park on the street. You will be towed away. Then, if could can get a ride to the impound lot after the game, you'd need $58.50 in cash to retrieve your car. After that, you'd still have a $28 parking fine to pay. It's cheaper to spend the $5, $10 or $15 and park in a lot, a nearby gas station or driveway of a private home.
Do not park where you cannot lock your car and take your keys. "People just have to use common sense," said Sgt. Wayne Hofer, coordinator of special events for LAPD's South Bureau. "If they're going to a night game, they should park in a well-lighted lot."
All Raider games this season begin at 1 p.m.; several of USC's start in late afternoon.
"They should not park anywhere where they have to leave their keys," Hofer advised. "And they should make sure the person asking them for the $5 is an authorized person at the lot."
Dody Bevans, manager of the Arco station at Vermont and Exposition who has been parking cars there for 14 years on game days, put it a little stronger: "They should make sure there is someone to watch the cars because people steal cars or break the windows and steal what's inside."
FOOD--Many fans enjoy going early and picnicking on the Coliseum grounds. Some bring pate and cheeses, wine and crystal goblets, but most bring a cooler filled with sandwiches or chicken and beer and soft drinks, or pick up food at the many fast-food places surrounding the stadium. You can get good all-beef Colossal Dogs for $2.25 at stadium concession stands, but some fans think the regular hot dogs tend to come in soggy buns.
Beer (large size $3.25; small, $2.25) is sold at the Coliseum. The limit is two brews to a customer at one time; no beer is served after the end of the third quarter.
There are several restaurants and bars in the area, but the two most popular are Julie's on Flower Street and Margarita Jones, between Figueroa and Flower streets. Both are moderately-priced.