Baseball fans, concertgoers face traffic woes around Oakland Coliseum

By Michelle R. SmithThe Associated Press
Tuesday April 02, 2002

OAKLAND — Take 40,000 baseball fans, add an ex-Beatle, a jazz crooner and a Latin pop sensation, then top it off with a dose of holiday airport traffic, and what do you get? 


As Athletics fans geared up for the team’s first game of the season and Beatles fans prepared for Paul McCartney’s first stop on his U.S. tour, transportation officials warned them all to get ready for gridlock Monday night. 

“There’s only so much capacity on the freeway,” said Caltrans spokesman Colin Jones, pointing out that Oakland International Airport is one exit away from the Coliseum and that Monday was the end of a weekend that included Easter and Cesar E. Chavez Day, a state holiday. 

It all shaped up as a traffic nightmare, with the ballgame and the McCartney concert scheduled side by side and the other two concerts — featuring crooner Harry Connick Jr. and Latin pop singer Enrique Iglesias — happening just up the highway. 

More than 40,000 people were expected to attend the A’s opener against the Texas Rangers at the Coliseum at 7:05 p.m. Next door at the Oakland Arena, McCartney was expected to draw 15,000 people to his sold-out show starting at 8 p.m. 

Caltrans suspended all work on Interstate 880 and had crews on standby in case of problems, but said there was little else that could be done to ease congestion, other than to encourage people to car pool, use public transit or take alternate routes. 

“It’s not like we can go out there and add more lanes,” Jones said. 

In downtown Oakland, about five miles north on Interstate 880, Connick was playing back-to-back sold-out shows at jazz club Yoshi’s and the Paramount Theater was expecting a sold-out crowd of more than 3,000 for Iglesias. 

“That’s a lot of people,” said Leslee Stewart, general manager of the Paramount. 

Stewart said the theater encouraged people to arrive early and travel light, especially with increased security at the doors. She expected many concertgoers to take public transportation. 

The Bay Area Rapid Transit system added nine trains and kept long trains out after the commute to deal with the crowds at the Coliseum and Arena, according to spokesman Mike Healey. 

Healey said thousands more riders were expected to flood onto the system, which normally carries 311,000 riders a day. 

“When you have two events like that and there’s simply not adequate parking at the Coliseum, we’ll usually have 18,000 to 20,000 additional trips,” Healey said. 

Sgt. Tom Hogenmiller of the Oakland Police Department said the big night presented no more of a problem than a Raiders’ Monday night football game at the Coliseum. Such a game would draw more than the 59,000 combined audience at the baseball game and McCartney concert. 

“It’s not that big a deal,” said Hogenmiller, who added that 24 traffic officers will be deployed around the Coliseum area. “There will be, obviously, backups. Those can’t be avoided.”