Headed to the North Shore this weekend or next? Consider using good timing to thread the needle in an imminent "perfect storm" of back-to-back sporting and cultural events that could make local traffic and parking woes even worse than usual.
Today, the University of Pittsburgh Panthers play the New Mexico Lobos at Heinz Field at 12:30 p.m. This evening, Pirates fans will need the same parking lots just vacated -- hopefully -- by Pitt fans for their 7:05 p.m. game against the Chicago Cubs.
Oh, and just to make things really hairy, "The Lion King" is playing at the Benedum at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., gobbling up parking spots in the Cultural District, Downtown.
With any luck, fans from the first game will get home efficiently enough that the two groups aren't jockeying for spaces, said parking lot operator and Alco CEO Merrill Stabile. If Pitt fans leave immediately after their game, they will have a better chance of getting out easily, and if the Pirates fans don't arrive too early, they'll have a better chance of getting in, he said.
And please bag that trash, because parking lot workers won't have time to sweep the lots between games.
"If everybody does what they're supposed to, we might get through this OK, with minimal problems," Mr. Stabile said. "We're relying on the courtesy of fans."
The following weekend, a similar scheduling storm ensues with the Pirates' 1:35 p.m. game -- the last game of the regular home season -- against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park, followed by the Steelers playing the Chicago Bears at Heinz Field at 8:25 p.m. And, of course, "The Lion King" has performances at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
As always, police will be out in force during the games, and will politely but firmly shoo out any lingerers, Mr. Stabile said.
But officials are offering carrots as well as sticks to move the parking process along, with incentives to so-called "cash parkers" who don't have reserved spots in the North Side lots. If those folks are willing to park in the Strip District, they'll find parking for $2 compared to the $12 to $15 for Pirates games and $35 for Steelers games.
The Consol Energy Center is offering parking for $5, with free T rides available from Steel Plaza, just a few blocks away, to the North Shore. And parking will be $2 at the Manor Garage as well, with easy enough access for folks who don't mind a stroll to save some cash.
Parking slightly farther away also means those fans will be able to escape post-game gridlock more easily, Mr. Stabile said.
"You'll save yourself a ton of money and avoid some traffic, too," he said. "Let's just hope the Pirates don't have a 17-inning game."
Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: 412-263-1719 or email@example.com.