It is a potential nightmare--thousands of cars backed up on Interstates 8 and 15 filled with people who have paid $100 a ticket for the Super Bowl listening to the kickoff on their car radios.
To avoid this nightmare from becoming a reality on Sunday, when an estimated 75,000 people will flock to San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium for Super Bowl XXII, officials have some advice:
For those attending the game, take a bus.
If you do drive, come early and stay late.
For those not attending the game, stay out of Mission Valley.
Plenty of Things to Do
"We're telling the people who have tickets to come at least three hours early and enjoy," said Bill Wilson, the stadium's general manager. "There will be plenty of things to do, with all the corporate tents up in the parking lot and the pregame activities inside the stadium."
The stadium parking lot will open at 8 a.m. the day of the game, Wilson said, and the stadium will open at noon.
Organizers estimate 35,000 to 40,000 of those attending the game will arrive by public or chartered bus.
About 175 buses will be used to bring fans in from various locations, including downtown, El Cajon, La Mesa, San Ysidro, Escondido and Oceanside, said Gus Zemba, transportation committee chairman for the San Diego Super Bowl task force.
"Many of the others will take limousines, and there will be 8,200 spaces available for the general public," Wilson said.
Those driving to the game must enter the parking lot through the westernmost entrance to the stadium off eastbound Friars Road, according to Wilson. People without a ticket will not be allowed into the parking lot, he added.
The main stadium entrance, where Mission Village Drive empties into the stadium parking lot at Friars Road, will be used as a bus entrance, Wilson said.
He said only those with advance authorization, such as National Football League officials and press members, will be able to use the stadium entrance off Rancho Mission Road.
The parking lot will remain open after the game for "as long as people want to stay," according to Wilson.
"We're not going to force people out," he said. "We'll let people dally for as long as they wish."
Don't Come to Gawk
For those not attending the game, the message is clear--don't aggravate the situation by going near the stadium just to gawk.
"Basically, if you don't have tickets, avoid Mission Valley altogether the entire day of the game," Wilson said.
The same rules apply for Lindbergh Field on Monday morning, when the out-of-town Super Bowl revelers are expected to descend en masse on the airport.
Traffic tie-ups at the airport's East and West terminals and extending onto Harbor Drive are expected, Zemba said.
"Again, people who have no business to be in the area should avoid it at all costs," he said. "If you can postpone a trip a day, do it."
Suggestions for those trying to make the great getaway Monday morning include approaching the airport from the west to avoid the downtown morning commute, and to allow a two-hour leeway to ensure catching a flight, Zemba said.
People are expected to arrive for the game over a week's time, avoiding the potential crunch when they all leave, according to Zemba.
"We expect the arrivals will begin the Sunday or Monday before, and start to peak on Wednesday or Thursday," Zemba said. "It will be staggered enough, hopefully, that it won't be a problem."
Organizers believe that with enough advance planning, traffic headaches will not be of epic proportions this weekend.
"We've been working on this for 4 1/2 years, and I've attended three other Super Bowls to see how others have done it," Zemba said. "From what I could tell, no one else has done such extensive planning as we have done, and we plan to keep this pace up until the last person leaves San Diego."