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'Carmageddon': 'This is a great test,' one sports fan says of downtown crowds

May 20, 2012 | 11:15 am

The scene at LA Live

Kings fans Terri Bain, 53, and her family figured they'd better leave their Hermosa Beach house early for Staples Center if they wanted to avoid the traffic.

So they left at 8 a.m. and were downtown within 40 minutes.

Once there, they met up with Bain’s daughter, Staci Wikstrom, 38, and her husband, David, 41, who drove in from Las Vegas.

“You can feel the excitement in the air,” David said, as hundreds of cyclists in the Amgen Tour of California rode past on Figueroa Street toward the finish line of the 750-mile bike race. Thousands of sports fans cheered the cyclists as music blared.

Staci, who has been  a Kings fan since she was 9, has a team tattoo on her right wrist. The couple said they were married in 1993, the last time the Kings were in the Stanley Cup finals.

Terri said she was impressed how well the traffic and parking were coordinated for Sunday’s sporting events.

“This is a great test,” she said of the possibility of a football stadium being built downtown. “If L.A. can handle this, then it speaks to the organization.”

Officials are urging motorists to avoid downtown L.A. on Sunday if possible due to numerous street closures and crowds related to several sporting events.

Tens of thousands of cycling, hockey and basketball fans are expected to converge at Staples Center on Sunday for post-season games and the final stage of the Amgen Tour, which began a week ago in Santa Rosa.

INTERACTIVE: Amgen Tour of Calif. course and street closure map

Dozens of downtown streets were closed for the bike tour and traffic delays were expected throughout the day in the downtown area.

The heaviest traffic was expected before and just after noon, generated by crowds overlapping to attend the Kings game and the bike race finish.

Two pedestrian bridges were built along Figueroa Street in preparation for Kings fans crossing the Amgen bike route Sunday morning for Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference finals.


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— Kate Mather at LA Live

Photo: Members of the West Adams High School Marching Band travel the final stretch where the Amgen Tour of California ends on Figueroa Street. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times