Speed Increase In Clark County

When Jimmy Buffett played the first sold-out show at the Amphitheater at Clark County in Ridgefield, Wash., four years ago, egress was almost four hours. That’s no longer the case.

No matter what officials and fans would prefer, sometimes it just takes hours for cars to leave a concert. Live Nation’s Jason Stone once said at the Concert Industry Consortium that his staff experimented with exiting strategies at Westbury. Turned out, the parking lot cleared in exactly the same amount of time as when staff did nothing at all.

But obviously something had to change in Clark County.

Facility manager Kiet Callies, who has taken over most of the planning and operational tweaking for parking at the 18,000-capacity venue, told Pollstar it now takes 45-90 minutes to clear out the shed – a vast improvement over traffic jamathon.

Now there are shuttle buses and a park-and-ride program, which are not unusual. Beyond that, the venue segregates parking lots according to fans’ hometowns.

"We try to get them into particular lots with the assumption that at the end of the night, they would be leaving the same way," Callies said.

Callies is also marketing the YES parking program, which stands for Your Enhancement of Service. In other words, carpooling. Concertgoers download a PDF placard from the venue’s Web site, place it on the dashboard and make sure three friends are in the car – earning premium parking and priority exiting.

The YES lot typically empties within a half-hour of the event, Callies said.

"What we’ve learned is the best way to conquer driver frustration is trying to keep the queue moving. Even though it’s not moving as fast as everybody would like, if you can just keep those cars creeping along, it helps tremendously."