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Beat the Traffic: Parking options for Houstonians during Final Four

by Katherine Whaley / 11 News

Posted on March 18, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 29 at 2:32 PM

HOUSTON -- The road to the Final Four is a long one for the basketball players, but we want to make the trip to the big event as quick as possible for you.

With thousands of visitors projected to come to town, the extra cars will put a pinch on traffic and parking. Reliant Park is the center of all the action, and leaders there have been mapping out a parking plan to help visitors get in and out of the complex quickly.

“We've got 26 thousand parking spaces, so we have plenty of parking," Mark Miller, General Manager of Reliant Park told 11 News. Unlike other events at Reliant such as Houston Texans football games and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, parking lots are not assigned. Instead, all lots will be open, and drivers can pay $25 cash at the gate. Alternately, pre-pay parking coupons are available online through the NCAA website, for the same price. Miller said Reliant Park will be fully-staffed to make sure fans can enter and leave the complex as quickly as possible, "every gate will be open, there will be ticket takers at every gate." On Final Four Friday, parking at Reliant is free of charge. Metro is also bracing for a big crowd by increasing service around town.

During the games, Metro will double up light rail cars, and provide additional buses to run alongside the trains to Reliant Park to accommodate the spillover.

Metro Senior Press Officer Jerome Gray said, "we are adding extra rail cars to the line and when possible two cars."

The agency is also providing additional routes to prepare for the crowds during the Final Four fan events downtown. Metro is offering special park-and-ride service to Bracket Town at the George R. Brown Convention Center and The Big Dance three-day concert series at Discovery Green. The three park and ride locations include Addicks (west Houston), Kuykendahl (north Houston), and West Bellfort (south Houston).

A round trip costs $5. More detailed information on schedules are available to Metro’s website. The goal is to help keep downtown parking lots from reaching capacity, and provide a fast alternative for drivers in Houston’s suburbs. "These park and ride locations are spread out pretty well throughout our service area to get people in," Metro Senior Press Officer Jerome Gray told 11 News.

Fans driving to Bracket Town and The Big Dance are encouraged to check the NCAA website for information on parking in downtown Houston. “Houstonians are pretty resourceful when it comes to parking downtown, we are used to parking near minute maid for the baseball games, and Toyota center for our basketball games… similar parking will be available,” Rachel Quan, Vice President of External Operations for the Houston Local Organizing Committee told 11 News.

Getting around the city is an exercise in teamwork, so be a good sport and show the throngs of visitors expected for the Final Four just how we do it here in Houston. "We are so well known in this town for being really hospitable, be ready to give some directions to some out-of-town folks," Quan said. And before you hit the road, make sure you click on the link the NCAA Final Four website for all of your updated parking information including road closures and maps. With these tips, beating the traffic and finding a place to park will be a slam dunk.