Will Motley Crue create another White River Amphitheater traffic nightmare?

Jul 25, 2014, 1:04 PM | Updated: 2:09 pm

Complaints continue pouring in from concertgoers who got stuck in hours-long traffic trying to get to the White River Amphitheater last weekend. With another big show Sunday, there are fears of a repeat of the ordeal that kept many from the show.

“It took us 4.5 hours to get to the venue from Tacoma,” Michael Worby said. “At 9:45 p.m. when we got to the parking lot, the attendants told us the show had been oversold and there were no parking places but we could drive around and see if we could find one.”

Worby never did, and ultimately missed the entire concert featuring Journey and the Steve Miller Band.

KIRO Radio tried repeatedly throughout the week to get an explanation or at least comment. Repeated messages left for the White River Amphitheater went unanswered. A spokesperson for Live Nation, which operates the venue, blamed concertgoers who failed to use recommended alternate routes for causing the congestion. They issued the following statement:

At this past weekend’s soldout 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) [click to view email] and on the venue website in advance of the show date to provide alternate routes, parking recommendations, encourage carpooling, etc.

While traffic is commonly an issue with any show at the amphitheater, Saturday was particularly bad because it was a rare sellout at the venue, said city of Auburn spokesperson Dana Hinman.

The city has no connection to the venue, but it bears the brunt of the impacts. Hinman said last Saturday was among the worst ever and the city has had numerous conversations with the amphitheater to try and mitigate the impact.

“They know that once they have an event that’s going to attract over 7,000, once it starts creeping above the 7,000 mark, that’s where we’re really going to start seeing the impacts and the slowdowns, and then the higher you go from there, the worse it’s going to get.”

Saturday’s show drew an estimated 20,000 people and Hinman said the venue only has parking for an estimated 6,800 vehicles.

“That is just simply a capacity that is unmanageable, really,” she said.

Hinman added the city deploys traffic engineers to monitor and manually operate traffic signals to help traffic flow and increase signal times for concerts.

“We have also very strongly communicated to the amphitheater to not encourage their patrons to take Highway 164,” she said. “We’re fighting with GPS. If you’re just putting it into GPS, that’s where GPS is going to take you.”

It’s impossible to say whether this Sunday night’s concert featuring Motley Crue will create similar nightmares. Both LiveNation and Hinman implore concertgoers to use alternate routes suggested by the venue and Washington State Department of Transportation that seem like major detours, but actually make for shorter drive times.

Hinman said if there’s any silver lining, it’s that the White River Amphitheater only stages a handful of concerts each year. But that’s little consolation to concertgoers like Michael Worby, who vows never to return.

“There is no excuse for Ticketmaster, Live Nation and White River to conduct business in the fashion they do and sell tickets to an event they know cannot be honored. Never, never, never again will I attempt to attend any event at White River or a Muckleshoot sponsored function anywhere for that matter. It’s time for a Class Action lawsuit,” he said.

MyNorthwest.com’s Jamie Griswold contributed to this report.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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Will Motley Crue create another White River Amphitheater traffic nightmare?