Friday marks the start of a huge weekend for Grand Forks, with country music star Eric Church performing at the Alerus Center. While the church probably won’t break down attendance records There, Grand Forks Police officers expect long lines of cars along South 42nd Street and potentially along DeMers Avenue. Traffic will also congest this area the next day, when the UND-NDSU football match starts at 2 p.m., shortly after 6 p.m. that day, UND to face Bemidji State in exhibition hockey match at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
For music and sports fans, this could mean long waits in cars when trying to enter the premises, unless they are walking or taking a shuttle from another location in town.
And Grand Forks Police are hoping people will use private bus services, as a means to attend this weekend’s events. Either that, walk or carpool. People who park at the Alerus center for one of this weekend’s events should plan for increased driving time and get to the Alerus center with sufficient free time.
“It is very difficult to move (efficiently), in a timely flow of traffic in a place, where you have an entry and exit route,” said GFPD Lt. Derik Zimmel.
Officers have a work plan, a plan that works like a sliding scale in terms of the number of officers working to direct traffic and ensure safety. For large-scale events, agents try to staff the main hubs with staff near the Alerus center. When things get massive, as it was with Luke Combs, they pull away from that area to optimize direct traffic.
Starting on Friday and then again on Saturday, people can see police directing traffic at the intersection of 42nd Street and DeMers Avenue.
Sergeant GFPD. Kris Brown works with the ministry’s Education and Safety Awareness Office, and her duties include overseeing special events. Brown said he was encouraging people not attending weekend events to find alternative routes in the area. Either way, people need to be careful, he said.
“If they’re in the area just make sure they’re watching out for pedestrians,” Brown said. “That’s the big deal. I just want to make sure no one gets hurt.
Still, for music and concert fans and for people with UND Athletics, this is a weekend they’ve been waiting for.
“Our staff have been talking about these games as have our fans for a long time,” said Kyle Doperalski, associate athletic director of the UND. “Fall is one of the best times here. Everything is kicking in and we have a huge football game, one of the most important in a long time. Then we have the start of the hockey season, which is obviously always a big deal, and (they) all coincide within hours of each other. “
Doperalski said UND athletes will be busy from the time they open the Alerus Center on Saturday until the end of the hockey game that night. This includes moving staff from the Alerus Center to REA and setting up and preparing media broadcasts.
The people working on these two events, including the employees at the Alerus Center who have to work all night to go from a concert hall to a football stadium, “deserve a ton of credit,” Doperalski said.
“Obviously a lot is going on, it’s an extremely exciting weekend,” he said.
Grand Forks City Administrator Todd Feland said city workers will bolster the ranks of those working to make the transition to the Alerus Center. The teams have a shorter window this weekend to do that, compared to when they made the switch after the Luke Combs concert on September 17. UND played Drake the day after the show, but the team entered the field at 4 p.m. on Saturday. , the game starts at 2 p.m.
Regarding public transport on Saturday, Feland said the city was quite dispersed and would not be able to help with special bus routes due to the their support for Grand Forks public schools. Those wishing to take a bus to the Alerus Center will have to rely on private sector transportation, which typically departs from bars and other places in Grand Forks.
Feland said he was excited about the events to come and that it was “another weekend on the bridge”.
Matt Gust, of Space ZCruise LLC, said he was “loaded” for the Eric Church concert on Friday night. The party bus company usually doesn’t have much to do with the football games at the Alerus Center, as customers book company buses in blocks of hours. The company does about 40% of its business in Grand Forks, with the remainder coming from the surrounding area and Fargo.
“It’s going to be very busy,” said Gust.