September 24, 2018 - 10:29am
Dealing regularly with huge crowds, including a recent record-setting crowd of over 16,874 Metallica fans, traffic flow in and out of the Sasktel Centre during large events can be a challenge. But a series of changes made by Sasktel Centre Manager John Howden and the City of Saskatoon Transportation Department’s Todd Harms and their teams in early 2017 has made a real difference in improving traffic flow. “We had two main objectives. Getting customers into their seats before shows start and making sure everyone coming to our venue could get here safely,” says Howden.
In order to get started, the team first conducted some observational studies to get a better understanding of the problem. “We knew we had to get out and really see what people were experiencing when trying to get into the parking lot or to reach destinations in the vicinity of SaskTel Centre,” says Harms. The results of the observational studies confirmed what was coming up in the complaints. Major issues included intersection congestion, inconsistent signage, and pedestrians walking on roadways due to a lack of sidewalk infrastructure.
The two teams then worked together to come up with a comprehensive plan that was rolled out in phases in March and April 2017. Highlights included clarifications to signage to ensure drivers parking and dropping people off knew where to go, traffic light pattern adjustments during peak travel times to improve the flow of traffic, and temporary lane reassignments to increase the volume of vehicles that can be moved in and out before and after events.
The end result of this collaborative work was that traffic congestion was markedly reduced with vehicles getting into the stadium parking lot 20-25 minutes faster. For customers it meant that more people could get to their seats safely before show time. “We think it’s made a big difference. Now we see more people enjoying the pre-game festivities and concourse activities before events like Rush games instead of hustling straight in,” remarks Howden.
The team would also like to acknowledge the City of Saskatoon Sign Shop and Sasktel Centre Parking Manager Owen Ebner for their work on the project. A number of improvements are still underway at SaskTel Centre to improve the customer experience. To learn about what’s next, click on the video to hear from John Howden.