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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Football fans to face traffic issues with El Tour de Tucson

On Saturday, two of the biggest sporting events in Tucson are going head to head, and fans without a game plan could lose out.

The annual El Tour de Tucson on Saturday will see more than 9,000 cyclists racing around town. The Arizona football game against Oregon on Saturday is set for the 1:30 p.m. ABC/ESPN2 time slot, creating a conflict.

Harry Anthos, route director for El Tour de Tucson, said motorists should head to the game early, before 11 a.m.

Fans coming to the game from the west side of Interstate 10 could run into problems, as a long portion of the race goes along the I-10 Frontage Road.

“If the people on the west side of the freeway know what to do, it’s not a big deal,” said Michael McKisson, publisher and editor of Tucson cycling website TucsonVelo.com. “Starting at about 1 [p.m.], probably, they’re going to be pretty brutal. … The fastest guys will finish about noon, and then it will basically be a constant stream of people coming until 5 or 6 o’clock at night.”

McKisson said west-siders should take North Silverbell Road south to Congress Street and then get on Grande Avenue, which changes into Mission Road, to West Silverlake Road, which changes into 29th Street and then cross the freeway at 29th Street and then take that to Kino Parkway, which changes into Campbell Avenue.

Campbell Avenue serves as the UA’s eastern border.

El Tour de Tucson is held annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t usually conflict with UA home games.

McKisson said he can only recall three other times that the UA has had home games on El Tour day.
“There’s not a lot of experience with this,” McKisson said. “Additionally … the games are usually later.”

Darren Graessle, UA director of ticket operations and customer relations, said the UA is expecting a big crowd Saturday, with almost 50,000 seats sold.

Last week, 42,080 fans attended the noon game against Washington State.

“We still do have a good number of tickets left in the upper level, but sales are a lot better than last weekend,” Graessle said.

Anthos said that drivers should avoid St. Mary’s Road and 22nd Street by the freeway around midday.

St. Mary’s Road changes into Anklam Road around the Pima Community College West Campus, then into Sixth Street around downtown, runs just south of Arizona Stadium and then finally into Fifth Street around Country Club Road.

Anthos said people coming from the northwest could run into problems between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Fans coming from Oro Valley should take the freeway to St. Mary’s Road or Speedway Boulevard, McKisson said.

The Catalina Foothills near Swan Road will probably be the most difficult area to get through because “people are going to be trickling past that,” McKisson said.

Graessle said ticket buyers don’t seem to be concerned about El Tour or the potential for rain, but he is worried about what the day game could mean for the student section.

“I’m a little concerned, just because of the early start,” Graessle said. “That does seem to be the kind of games where we have really low attendance from the ZonaZoo.”

El Tour de Tucson officials are recommending motorists in the Old Pueblo leave an hour early for their destinations on Saturday.

“People always get frustrated, every year, about El Tour,” McKisson said. “They don’t look at the map, they don’t know it’s coming and then all of a sudden they are sitting in traffic for an extra hour and they’re pissed.”

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—Follow James Kelley @JamesKelley520

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