Country music superstar Garth Brooks will perform the first concert at Protective Life Stadium in Birmingham on Saturday night, with a sold-out crowd of more than 45,000 expected.
If you are driving to the concert, you need a parking plan.
“The parking that is set up for Garth is above and beyond our normal parking plan,” said Tad Snider, executive director of the BJCC. More than 10,000 parking spaces are within a 10-minute walk to the stadium.
First of all, consider getting there early and making a day of it.
There’s a FanFest at UpTown from noon to 6 pm
“Arrive early, there will be restroom opportunities outside, there will be opportunities to grab food or beverage outside,” Snider said. “Arriving early is the key to not getting in a last-minute crush.”
The earlier you leave, the less time you’ll spend in traffic and looking for a parking space. Parking lots open at 7 am If you park between 7 am and noon, parking will be a breeze. Shuttle buses begin to run at 2 pm from city parking authority decks 3, 4 and 5; shuttle carts start running at 3:30 pm Stadium gates open at 5 pm and showtime is 7 pm
Be prepared to walk. No matter where you park, there will be some walking involved, so wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
The parking decks that are part of the BJCC complex fill up fast and there’s usually traffic lined up as cars maneuver to get to them.
The top capacity parking deck is the Blue Garage on 11th Ave. North, with 1,800 spaces. This is an appealing target because it’s the biggest, fairly close to the stadium, and you can approach it from the north and west.
Next are two 1,400-space decks: Boutwell Garage on Eighth Avenue North at 18th Street; and the Red Garage, on 22nd Street.
The best way to approach Boutwell is from the south, taking Arrington (21st Street) to 8th Avenue, then turning left on 8th.
The Red Garage is closest to the main south entrance of the stadium, but parking there is mostly pre-sold and will be the hardest to get to because of street closures and traffic. The Silver Garage on 22nd Street is entirely pre-sold. “We did pre-sell a lot of parking,” Snider said. For those who bought advance parking, follow the Waze app to your parking space.
For those driving to the stadium and spontaneously searching for parking, strategy helps.
Approaching from the south, west and north, avoiding Carraway Boulevard, is easier. Traffic tends to back up around Top Golf at the interstate exit ramps that lead to Carraway from the east. “I would recommend the same thing as well,” Snider said.
“The prime opportunities there, because they are large with a lot of capacity, Blue and Boutwell combined, there are over 3,000 spaces,” he said. “They are easy to get into and get out of, being on the west side of the campus.”
The Birmingham Parking Authority decks, two on Fourth Avenue North and one on Fifth Avenue North, will be key parking options with shuttle service.
“The parking authority decks that are part of the north part of downtown, like Fourth Avenue North, working in towards the BJCC, are valuable,” Snider said. “There is some parking just north of the stadium, in private businesses that are just north of 12th Avenue, two church lots.”
People have also gotten creative parking on the dirt medians, although that’s tricky when it’s muddy.
“There’s some parking around the new interstate bridges that people use that aren’t official parking lots, but they use them,” Snider said. “That’s happened a lot during USFL.”
The stadium website has several maps showing parking options.
There are also parking decks to the north of Shuttlesworth Drive that will be available, Snider said. There are several smaller lots around the stadium that will fill up quickly.
For those who want to ride a shuttle and cut down on the walking, the Birmingham Parking Authority decks are an appealing option. The shuttles will take them north on Arrington (21st Street North) to just beyond the Sheraton Hotel for a much shorter walk.
“Being able to pick up the shuttle route, it’ll help,” Snider said. “If they don’t want to walk those few blocks, there is a way to ride in.”
After the concert, riding a shuttle back to your car may require some patience.
“It will certainly take longer to get a shuttle back to your vehicle than to get in, because people arrive over time but department all at one time,” Snider said. “But those shuttles will run until there’s no one to take back. We’re not going to cut it off with people still looking to get back to their vehicle.”
Parking meter spaces downtown are also an option, and there are no parking fees or parking tickets on weekends or after 5 pm weekdays.
“There is a significant amount of on-street parking,” Snider said. “Of course, in the evening, you don’t have to feed the meter. They’re along 24th, 25th streets, back up into downtown a little bit. There’s quite a bit of parking that we don’t manage or operate that people will be flagging people in to park.”
The downtown area will be a hotspot for parking.
“If you don’t have a reserved space in the lots – because we did pre-sell a lot of parking – if you’re not in one of those areas, looking for somewhere south of I-20/59, either on- street or lots that we don’t own or operate will be open and are a great opportunity,” Snider said. “Along the east side of the stadium, where there’s a lot of open area, where the city walk is going to be, there are opportunities to park on the street there as well.”
Here are the street closings to avoid:
Road closings: Some roads near the stadium will be closed to traffic, starting at 7 am on Friday and lasting through Saturday night. According to a map on the Protective Stadium website, that includes:
· 12th Avenue North between 22nd and 24th Streets North.
· Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard between 22nd and 24th Streets North.
· 23rd Street North loop near Uptown restaurants to the Ninth Avenue North Alley.
· Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard North between the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex and the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel.
· 22nd Street North between Ninth Avenue North and Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. blvd.
· Ninth Avenue North between 19th Street North and 22nd St. North. (Part of the street is open to pedestrian traffic, but not vehicles.)
“Even with the street closures, you can get to any of the designated parking areas,” Snider said.
Snider will be at the concert, although he’s reluctant to call himself a Garth Brooks aficionado.
“I can appreciate that he’s an amazing entertainer,” Snider said. “It will be a fantastic show whether you’re a fan of country music or not.”
See also: Going to see Garth Brooks at Protective Stadium? Here’s what you need to know