Tempe expects large crowds, heavy traffic for event-filled Saturday


by azfamily.com

Video reported by Natalie Brand

Posted on December 6, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 10 at 1:14 PM

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Up to 300,000 people could visit Tempe this weekend for several big events, and businesses and city officials are preparing for large crowds and heavy traffic.

Arizona State University will play Stanford University in the Pac-12 championship game at Sun Devil Stadium.

Other events include two NCAA women's basketball games at ASU, a swim festival, two showings of the musical "Evita" at ASU Gammage, and Tempe Festival of the Arts.

Downtown businesses say they are ready for the action.

“Boost staff, boost chefs, managers -- everyone,” said Anthony Pethers, manager of La Bocca restaurant on Mill Avenue. “It could be one of the busiest weekends of the year.”

Cactus Sports, a sports retail store also located on Mill Avenue, has increased staffing levels over the past two weeks.

"Ever since we beat UCLA, it's been insane," owner Troy Scoma said.

Cactus Sports has sold out of many sweatshirts and hoodies, which have been in high demand since cold weather hit the Valley this week.

But the colder temperatures aren't deterring people from attending Tempe's popular arts festival.

Vendor Jennifer Radler said she had a successful first day of the fair on Friday.

“I think today was better than I usually do,” said Radler, whose tent is stocked with scarves and ear muffs. "I'm expecting a very good weekend."

City officials recommend visitors head to Tempe early in the day and have a plan before arriving downtown. They are also encouraging visitors to utilize the light rail and park-and-ride lots.

The Tempe Police Department will have 100 additional officers working over the weekend.

Main events that will impact traffic: 
1. Tempe Fall Festival of the Arts, Mill Avenue District, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
2. NCAA Women's Basketball
   -- ASU Classic: Long Beach State vs. Harvard, 9 a.m.
   -- ASU Classic: ASU vs. Sacred Heart, 11:30 a.m.
3. Holiday Swim Festival at Arizona State University, Mona Plummer Aquatics Center, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
4. Musical "Evita" at ASU Gammage, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
5. Moonshine Event (Mill/4th) from 6 p.m. to about 2 a.m. in Square
6. Eagle Rider hosting a concert at McClintock/Curry, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
7. Pac-12 Championship Game, 5:45 p.m.


Police are encouraging anyone attending the Tempe Arts Festival, specifically after noon on Saturday, to enter the city from the west, utilizing Priest Drive to University Drive or Priest Drive to Rio Salado Parkway.

There are several parking structures along Ash Avenue, in addition to the parking structure at Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, that are available and in close proximity to Mill Avenue. Expect traffic delays when entering downtown using Mill Avenue from the north or south.

Pass holders attending the ASU football game should enter Tempe from the east using Scottsdale/Rural Road, Rio Salado Parkway from McClintock Drive, and University Drive. Access can also be made from the west by made using Priest Drive to Rio Salado Parkway.
Those seeking public parking can find plenty at the Hayden Ferry Structure at Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, and at handful of ASU lots. A cash lot will be available at Athletes Way and University Drive.

Traffic exiting ASU Gammage after the musical will be directed southbound on Mill Avenue or eastbound on Apache Boulevard.

Street closures and restrictions: www.tempe.gov.