Despite Sandy’s aftermath, the Giants will be more than ready for this Sunday’s matchup against the Steelers. Nothing can stop Big Blue’s tailgaters, either. Folks from Red Hook to Belmar will be taking to the lots, cheering on their team and showing off the legendary resilience that both team and fans are known for. Traffic snarls at MetLife are as legendary as our boys in blue and may be even more pronounced this weekend. Here’s a run-down on when to arrive, when to leave and how to avoid the worst of the gridlock.
Kick-off for Sunday’s game is at 4:25 p.m. but don’t even think about getting to the stadium past noon if you want a prime spot, particularly in lots L and K. Vehicles are allowed in at 11 a.m. and tailgaters will start lining up at least an hour before then.
The main roads into MetLife Stadium are the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway and all roadways are expected to be open this Sunday. There are tons of on/off ramps and friendly, knowledgeable traffic and parking lot attendants to help out upon your arrival at MetLife, plus clear signage indicating lot designations and internal roadways.
Your best rule of thumb is to hit the road about 30 minutes earlier than you think necessary and to keep checking MetLife’s twitter feed for up-to-the-minute traffic updates @MLStadium. Be sure to gas up the day before; post-Sandy gas station lines will be longer than you expect as well.
From Parking Lot to Stadium
Stadium gates open at 2:15 p.m. There are four sponsored gates and each moves at about the same pace, so pick your pleasure. Expect to wait in line for around 20 minutes or so, with your wait increasing as start time nears. If you’re not familiar with the stadium, give yourself a little extra time to find the route to your seat and to map out the closest rest rooms and concession stands.
Don’t wear your stilettos to the game, even if they’re blue. There are five public escalators inside the gates but you’ll have to wait in line for about 10 minutes to access them. Lots of fans work off that extra beer by taking to one of 10 internal staircases instead.
Tailgaters typically surrender their grills about a half an hour before kick-off. New Jersey Transit buses will be discharging passengers every 15 minutes or so before the game as trains may not be running. Most mass transit riders make their way straight into the stadium instead of the parking lot, so if you squeeze in between bus or train arrivals, you’ll shave some time off your wait. For information on bus and train schedules, contact New Jersey Transit at (973) 275-5555 or njtransit.com.
The easiest way to beat post-game traffic is by parking as far away from the stadium as you can. Rather than sitting in traffic, die-hard Giants fans often opt to resume their tailgate after victory (or defeat) has been declared. The parking lots close two hours after the game, giving you plenty of time to do that victory dance.
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Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.