When country superstar Garth Brooks comes to town next week, Lexington knows it will be a big deal.
With crowds of 80,000 — many from out of town — expected for four back-to-back concerts, Rupp Arena, Lexington Center, police and buses have made plans to smooth the way to country concert heaven.
On Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, Brooks will do shows at 6:30 and 10:30 p.m. Concertgoers are urged to come early and stay late.
"It's going to be a big night for Rupp Arena," said Bill Owen, president and CEO of Lexington Center. "It's also going to be a big night for the entire community, especially downtown Lexington. It gives us opportunities, and it gives us challenges."
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Tickets are available for all four Brooks performances, said Carl Hall, director of arena management, and more seats are now on sale for Saturday.
"We've handled other big concerts, big events before," Hall said. This time, though, it's different because there has always been a big enough break between events to get people out from one and in for another. The events are so close together that parking will be especially tricky.
"This one's going to be that big deal," Hall said. "You've got to plan ahead."
Niki Heichelbech, spokeswoman for VisitLex, said representatives would be at Rupp and at bus stops to direct visitors to concert-related events and other activities.
At a news conference Monday, representatives announced plans for special parking and shuttles:
■ Patrons coming for 6:30 p.m. shows may park at the Lexington Center lots on High and Manchester streets for $15 (cash only.)
■ For the 10:30 p.m. shows, folks are urged to park in an auxiliary lot at Old Frankfort Pike and New Circle Road, which will open at 7 p.m., for $10 (cash only; proceeds benefit Lions Club.)
■ Lextran buses will shuttle concertgoers from the auxiliary lot to the back of Heritage Hall for $2 for a round trip (cash only.) Buses will run for one hour after the end of the second show.
■ The No Fences Festival in Heritage Hall is being billed as "Lexington's largest country bar," with free live music from 4:30 to 11:30 p.m. both nights, and food and beer for sale. At Cheapside, local craft beer will be on draft, with a DJ playing country music from 4 to 11 p.m. and extended hours at nearby restaurants.
City officials are urging downtown workers to leave by 5 p.m. Oct. 31 to help relieve rush-hour traffic.
And a reminder: Even though it's Halloween, no bulky costumes or full face masks are allowed at the concert.
There will be an increased police presence downtown, and enhanced traffic control around Rupp Arena and at the Forbes Road-Old Frankfort Pike intersection for shuttles.