Ross: Are parking woes now a phantom of the opera at Seattle Center?

May 15, 2023, 7:32 AM | Updated: 10:47 am

Many of you may remember back to the days when Seattle was finally getting serious about rebuilding KeyArena to make it ready for basketball and hockey.

There were dire predictions of a car-pocalypse in Lower Queen Anne on those occasions when you’d have a huge game coinciding with all the theatrical events at Seattle Center. And I will admit that I was among those theater-goers expecting to be part of the parking scrimmage.

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Which is why I want to bear witness to what happened Saturday — when an extremely important playoff game coincided with an extremely popular Opera.

The Kraken game started at 4 p.m., and Verdi’s La Traviata started at 7:30 p.m., so you had a situation where departing hockey fans would be colliding with arriving opera fans.

I was, of course, prepared – I have extra water in the car, freeze-dried camp rations, a first aid kit, and sanitary supplies. There have been times when opera traffic alone has paralyzed that parking deck – and for a while, it got to the point that I would just book a hotel room, and we’d leave in the morning.

But this time, I decided I would face the challenge head-on. Drive directly into the hurricane and take my chances. I thought we might have to park a mile away, but I am happy to report that while Mercer Street was slow, the reservation system worked, and I could glide into a parking space in the Seattle Center garage, even as hockey fans were gliding out. It was a traffic miracle.

And what made this miracle possible was the presence of traffic officers: professionally-trained human beings with runway flashlights directing traffic both inside and outside the parking deck.

This is something that happens all the time at baseball games, but in my experience, at Seattle Center, too many times, it was being left up to the traffic lights. Which just can’t cut it.

You need human intelligence – human beings who know what it feels like to be pinned on level D. Uniformed officers who can make sure our entitled pedestrians don’t camp in the crosswalks.

And I’m here to say not only was our entrance to the parking deck trouble-free, but our exit from the deck took only seven minutes (we timed it) – which I can’t recall ever happening after an opera!

So thank you, traffic officers, and to the Kraken people, I have to say — there is nothing quite as energizing as sharing a clogged pedestrian bridge with hundreds of overjoyed hockey fans.

Good luck in Texas tonight.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Are parking woes now a phantom of the opera at Seattle Center?