For those who haven't taken their minks out of storage, who prefer Monday Night Football to the philharmonic, Marino to Mehta, the Costa Mesa Police Department had one suggestion for the trek toward the television screen: Stay away from Bristol Street and Sunflower Avenue.
Although the Orange County Performing Arts Center will not officially open until 7 p.m., police expect thoroughfares around the complex to be a tangled mass of regular commuter traffic and opening-night limousines.
The result will be "pretty bad," Police Sgt. Timothy Holbrook predicted Sunday.
Those who could not afford the $2,000 price to hear the Los Angeles Philharmonic tonight should plan to use alternate routes such as Fairview Road and Bear Street, instead of braving what promises to be a bear of a traffic jam in the vicinity of the Performing Arts Center.
Although gawkers eager for an advance glimpse of the luxurious 3,000-seat theater were able to cruise unimpeded around Town Center Drive Sunday afternoon, police will close the street to through traffic today to control the flow of cars to be parked.
Dozens of valet parking attendants will be on hand to pilot the river of limousines expected to ferry guests to the elaborate opening night celebration.
And that, said Holbrook, could be the biggest problem of all. In addition to the tie-up on Bristol Street, he said, the backlog of cars could spill onto the freeways, causing even greater congestion.
Costa Mesa traffic officers were advising theatergoers to take as an alternate route the MacArthur Boulevard exit off the Costa Mesa Freeway west to Main or Bristol streets. For those who want to avoid the valet parking crush, entrances to self-park lots will be available off Sunflower Avenue. Alternative parking areas set aside for Center patrons include a lot east of the Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel and a parking structure off the Avenue of the Arts, south of Anton Boulevard.
And the best advice of all was to arrive as early as possible.
"It's hard to say (when the jam-up will start)," Holbrook said.
"Generally people try to get there 30 to 40 minutes before the performance. With the valet parking, people should be there a couple of hours before, because the valet parking will really slow things up. If people go their normal way, there's really going to be a traffic jam the hour before the opening."