Downtown parking expected to be a challenge for tournament fans

Tens of thousands for fans flock to downtown area
Posted at 6:54 PM, Mar 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-15 19:55:45-04

With March Madness just one day away from taking over Milwaukee, Parking around the BMO Harris Bradley Center is expected to bring challenges as tens of thousands of fans battle for spots with downtown workers and residents.

“Busy, busy, busy,” said Butler fan Jerry Petty. 

Thousands of fans like Petty have already made arrangements to catch a ride to the event.

“We’re going to take a taxi from the intercontinental,” he said. 

“We’re going to be on the bus, hadn’t worried about the parking,” said Middle Tennessee fan Steven Smith.

Part of the issue comes with plenty of commuters. Four of the eight teams playing in Milwaukee are from the Midwest and within driving distance.

“He’s panicking already about where we’re going to park,” said Winthrop fan Jill Broman.

This is the seventh and last time the BMO Harris Bradley will be hosting the event. This year there are fewer spots than usual due to construction. A city-owned parking structure across the street from the arena is now a pile of rubble, wiping out 950 spots.

“Parking seems to be an issue,” said Broman. “It could be a headache.”

Thursday’s first round will start just after noon leaving fans and workers fighting over 10,000 downtown parking spots. BMO Harris Bradley Center President Steve Costello said peak hours will start between 11 and 1 on Thursday.

“The good news in the morning, it’s after rush hour so all of our downtown workers and residents will get to work and settle in,” he said.

The struggle for spots will once again spike in-between the two sessions.

“5, 5:30, 5:45 (p.m.), obviously we’ll be fighting the end of business day,” said Costello. 

Costello suggests visitors staying at nearby hotels walk, and local fans take buses, or ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Last but not least, leave with plenty of time to spare.

Parking lot and ramp prices are expected to surge with the high demand. Costello said plan on paying between $20 and $30 per session within three or four blocks from the arena.

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