Reporting Joel Thomas
ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – With a Mexican flag draped across the hood of his car, Jose Cruz waited patiently for the Cowboys Stadium parking lot across the street to open for The Gold Cup soccer matches. He was hours early.
“I know its going to be chaos,” Cruz said of the crowds. “The reason why is there are two matches. There’s four teams.”
The soccer fans kicked off the rush of traffic into Arlington’s entertainment district early Wednesday afternoon.
The normal lunchtime traffic was snarled by hundreds of cars carrying patriotic fans.
“Mexico! Mexico!” some fans chanted at the cars backed up at the Collins / Randol Mill intersection.
Teams from Mexico, the United States, Panama and Honduras were scheduled to play in a double header. And their fans travel in large groups.
“We’ve got about 10 cars with at least 5 people each,” Cruz said. “We’re probably looking at about 60 people.”
Tens of thousands of soccer fans will compete for road space with tens of thousands of baseball fans. The Rangers expect a near sell-out crowd to see their new pitcher Matt Garza take on the Yankees. And all of this while Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor are at the peaks of the tourist seasons.
“The traffic is just crazy,” said Jennifer Riddle who works at Airways Hamburgers across the street from Cowboys Stadium.
Riddle was enjoying the calm before the storm at the restaurant — the time between lunch rush and the first crush of fans at dinner. It was going to be a long night for her.
“We’re going to stay open past midnight tonight,” Riddle said. “We usually stay open past all the events. People are hungry and they want to eat. I work 15 hours today.”
The police will work long hours too, trying to keep all the traffic flowing. Their biggest tip for drivers is to look for alternate ways to get to your parking lot.
“We always ask people to pack some patience when they’re coming,” said Sgt. Chris Cook, spokesman for the Arlington Police Department. “Don’t always follow your GPS device because the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers have done a great job, if you go to their website of providing directions directly to your parking lot.”
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