Let's say you've paid really good money to see a show and, as such, you want to stay until the very end. You see the people who don't want to stay through the encore -- they're heading toward the exits so they can get out to their cars and beat the traffic home -- but you stay in your seat. You want to get your money's worth. You know to expect a delay with the mass exodus to the exits, but you don't think about how long you're going to wait in a parking lot, waiting to get out and get back on the road.
Well, here's a list of area venues whose parking lots have some of the worst wait-times after a show.
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Gexa Energy Pavilion
The old Starplex has had plenty of names, but something has always remained the same: Getting out of the parking lot is a bitch. There are plenty of entrances and exits to make your way through the place, but when you have only two streets to get onto (Robert B. Collum Boulevard and Fitzhugh Avenue), well, in the words of Bob Nastanovich in a Pavement song: "You'll just have to wait." Oh, and when the State Fair's in town, you'll have to wait even longer. If you can even get a space in the lot.
The Gilley's complex (with the Palladium Ballroom, South Side Music Hall, Jack Daniel's Saloon and The Loft)
It's one thing to see a show at The Loft -- you can get out of the front parking lot and onto South Lamar Street mere seconds after you leave the venue. But let's say there are a number of shows going on in the Gilley's complex -- especially in the biggest room, the Palladium Ballroom -- on the same night. Now you're talking about a royal headache waiting to happen. When the front parking lot is closed to exiting traffic, you have to take the long, alley-like streets that run along the rail line to leave the place. Be warned, though: The long lines found there grow quickly. You could be sitting in your car for almost 30 minutes, hoping for your turn to get onto Lamar.
Location is to blame on this one, big time. As spacious as Performance Place is just north of I-30 by way of Belt Line Road (not to mention how easy it is to get into the venue), you can always expect to be a part of a brakelight parade for a long time after the show. No matter how hard police and the venue's parking lot staff try to get traffic flowing after the show, it is almost always bumper-to-bumper. What can make the wait time worse is if an Airhogs game gets out at the same time. Or if a race ends at Lone Star Park. Bring a book to read or load plenty of games on your iPhone, folks; you're going to be waiting quite a while just to access Belt Line.
Yes, these three venues are some of the biggest in town. This is not a call to boycott these places. Nor is this a complaint about big venues in general. It's just that, with places like the American Airlines Center and the House of Blues, you have options when it comes to parking, whether you want to park on the grounds or in the massive lot under Woodall Rodgers Freeway. Is it too much to ask for a separate parking lot or two, even if people have to hoof it to get to the venue?