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Ticket holders say 5-hour traffic jam around White River Amphitheatre kept them from show

While KIRO Radi's Dori Monson has heard White River Amphitheatre is a lovely venue once you get there, it sounds like getting there can be pretty difficult. (Creative Commons/Greg Dunlap)

A number of concertgoers are crying foul after traffic congestion around the White River Amphitheatre was so bad it prevented them from attending a show they had tickets for on Saturday night.

Listener Georgia sent The Dori Monson Show an email saying it was a “logistics nightmare” at the Saturday concert featuring Journey, the Steve Miller Band, and Tower of Power.

“Three of my friends and I shelled out $600 for tickets some time ago but never got to attend,” Georgia writes. “It was not the effect of the I-90 lane closure issue going on, etc. It started as you exited 167 onto 18 E. From then on, driving 12 miles to the venue took 5 hours! It wouldn’t have mattered how early we got there. It was an absolute standstill for hours.”

By the time they got to the venue, Georgia says the show was almost ending.

“We arrived just as the last band Journey was finishing so we did a quick U-turn to avoid then getting stuck in a parking lot where close to 20,000 people were then starting to exit on top of those who were still trying to get there.”

When she tried to call to report her experience all she got was a busy signal. “I think public pressure is the only thing that might help,” she wrote to Dori.

“Dori…you’re great at speaking up for the people and we could use you for this one!”

Reviews on Yelp seem to second Georgia’s accounts of the problems. There were dozens of complaints about the traffic issues outside the venue, and a number of reviews cited problems inside as well:

Taryn S. writes: I was really excited to go to a concert here. Amphitheatres tend to be good venues, but the hassle to get here is not worth any show. It took 3.5 hours to go 10 miles to get to this venue. A one lane road to get there was unacceptable.

Heidi S. writes: We didn’t even get into see due to this venue and location so not even 1 star – Our view of the concert was on the road in looking at tail lights! NO SHOW SEEN.

care e. writes: Left an hour early and was in the car FOUR hours. When we got into the lot the parking attendants were standing around doing nothing.

Chira V. writes: You would think after years of being open they would have some logistics figured out. But no. Luckily my shuttle bus was highly entertaining for 3 hour 7 mile trip, however I would never go to this venue again. EVER.

Monson has never been to White River Amphitheatre, so he opened up the line to callers to tell him what their experiences have been like. Caller Mary Lou told Monson even though she left at what seemed like an appropriate amount of time to get to the venue from Tacoma, they weren’t able to get there until nearly five hours later.

“My husband and I left Tacoma about five o’clock and were headed to White River via Highway 18 and we got stopped probably right under 167, and were there for about three hours sitting on Highway 18. I think we rolled into the concert about 9:45. They were just letting people in even though there was nowhere to park,” said Mary Lou. “We overheard a couple of attendants saying hey there’s nothing else we can do, let’s just go. At that point, we just decided we just need to get the first exit out.”

Mary Lou said they could hear the show from the car, but it just didn’t seem worth it to go in to see a few minutes at the risk of getting stuck in another traffic jam.

“It hurt to leave,” she said. “We did want to hear it, but I think it would have been even more disappointing if we’d gone in to listen to it for a half an hour and then sat in the parking lot for another couple hours to get out, so we decided to go home.”

White River Amphitheatre is owned by the Muckleshoot Tribe and managed by Live Nation. The Dori Monson Show tried to reach out to White River for comment, but couldn’t get anyone on the line to discuss the issue.

Monson thinks someone has to answer for this.

“I don’t want to hammer this venue because they’re very successful, but you’ve got to have the infrastructure to support what you are doing,” he said.

“I do think they have a responsibility if they’re not able to deliver,” said Monson. “I don’t know if this is on White River as a venue, if it’s on the Muckleshoots, if it’s on the city of Auburn. I don’t know who it’s on. That is what I want to track down.”

The show is currently trying to reach out to involved parties for interviews.

“If they don’t have the infrastructure to support what they’re selling to people, then something has to be done about that.”

Update: Live Nation provided the following statement after the show:

At this past weekend’s sold out show at White River Amphitheatre, we understand some fans unfortunately experienced delays due to heavy traffic. To supplement our onsite parking we also offer offsite parking, which is accessible via a shuttle. With each concert we work to provide information via email (see below for the actual email that went out to fans) and on the venue website in advance of the show date to provide alternate routes, parking recommendations, encourage carpooling, etc.

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