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This weekend while visiting the bay area, my husband and I went to the LA Galaxy vs San Jose Earthquakes sold out (55,000 tickets) soccer game at Stanford Stadium.

6 p.m. on the evening of the event, an hour before kick off we were only a mile from the event’s dirt parking lots. We turned on to the final street the Embarcadero, to find traffic that resembled a parking lot.

7 p.m. game start time, the fly by goes over our heads. We had moved maybe about 0.4 of a mile in an hour. By 7:30 p.m. we could see parking in the distance, SUVs were mounting the curb to cross over the street, while other people were doing illegal u-turns just to get to the event.

The Stanford Stadium event organizers appeared to have neglected logistics. There was no one to direct traffic, no police, no cones, nothing. It was not until we pulled onto the dirt lot that we found a few disorganized attendants attempting to direct people on a car-by-car basis. The radio commentators acknowledged that a lot of people were struggling to get into the event, but quickly changed the subject by talking about how amazing the event was, as if it didn’t matter that a lot of people had bought tickets for a game they would be lucky to see half of.

We finally made it to the event at 7:45 p.m. The traffic was still deadlocked behind us and once parked people were running to the stadium. The final mile had taken over 1 hour 45 minutes, which seems unbelievable even 3 days later; but yes this seriously happened! We made it to our seats in time for the second half.

Here are some comments from various Yelp reviewers on getting to this event:

“Stadium gets 4 stars… if you were able to teleport there magically… Whoever manages the events here deserves to be criminally charged with something… When you approach the stadium there are no signs and no one directing traffic… I have never seen a stadium with such a pathetic and chaotic parking situation… I ended up missing half the game (as did thousands of others as there was still a long line of cars as I made my way into the stadium)…
 It felt like no real thought had gone into how this parking situation was going to work.”

As a result of the traffic situation, the event’s vendors likely missed out on concession and retail sales. When you arrive at an event so late, shopping or stopping at food stands is not an option for many people who just want to see what’s left of the game.

On a more positive note the second half of the game was AWESOME! Two goals were scored, it was really entertaining and there was a great atmosphere. David Beckham randomly started a fight with an Earthquakes player, illustrating the rivalry of the two teams; it was constant action and time flew by. The game ended with a large firework display, which was not bad at all.

My take away from this, is that when organizing an event with 55,000 people expected, you need to think of the details and plan for different scenarios of what will and what could happen and figure out the logistics. Work with the police to organize a traffic system, put up signs and have people there to direct the traffic. Make sure to communicate the traffic situation so that people coming from out-of-town, know to allow hours to get there. Stanford Stadium hosts many large events and have tennis championships coming up. Hopefully they will do a better job at future events of coordinating traffic to ensure people get to see the full event they have paid for.

Attended any badly organized events? Share your experiences and tips on event organization in the comments section below.

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