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Downtown sports traffic: Plan ahead for busy weekend

May 17, 2012 |  3:03 pm

Tens of thousands of cycling, hockey and basketball fans will converge at Staples Center in a weekend packed with post-season games and the final stage of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California -- events that authorities are warning will close streets and delay traffic in the downtown area.

"This is unprecedented," said Lee Zeidman, senior vice president of AEG, the owner and operator of the cycling race, Staples Center, the Nokia Theater and L.A. Live. "You can't believe the thoughts running through my head."

His juggling is more than a one-day act. Staples hosts six playoff games -- two each for the Lakers, Clippers and Kings -- Thursday through Sunday; plus the cycling race.

Officials are expecting normal game traffic Thursday and Friday evening, and Saturday's back-to-back Clippers and Lakers games should not be a problem, officials said.

The wrench in traffic will be crowds overlapping for the Kings game and bike race on Sunday.

Street closures begin after the Lakers game Saturday night -- along Figueroa Avenue from Pico to Olympic boulevards and on Chick Hearn Court/11th Street from Flower Avenue to Georgia Street -- when two pedestrian bridges will be built in preparation for Kings fans crossing the Amgen bike route Sunday morning for Game 4 of the NHL Western conference finals.

Kings fans are encouraged to arrive early -- Staples Center will be open at 9 a.m. Sunday, with pre-game events and refreshments available. Kings fans who aren’t using public transit should park north of the arena with cycling fans parking to the south or in lots at the Coliseum, where there will be free shuttle service. A bike valet will also be provided at Staples Center.

Outside Staples Center, the final day of the eight-day, 750-mile professional bike race is expected to end by noon Sunday after a five-mile downtown circuit.

Street closures along the circuit will begin at 7 a.m., with thousands expected to participate in a free biking event along the course before Amgen riders enter starting at 10:30 a.m.

Officials are encouraging people to ditch their cars. Public transportation -- including the Red, Purple, Blue and Expo lines -- all stop near Staples Center.

Those who can't live without their cars should allow plenty of extra time for the drive.

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-- Rosanna Xia

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