Anticipating people and vehicles will fill Stampede Park to capacity for the Clint Black outdoor concert Thursday, authorities in charge of safety and traffic say people should arrive early.
Stampede Park gates open at 4:15 p.m. Opening acts start at 6:15 and Black takes the stage at 7.
The event announced in late March kicks off the Stampede Rodeo’s 100th anniversary celebration and Cody’s annual Fourth of July festivities. Admission to the concert is free; however, donations collected will benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
Local agencies have spent the past several months planning how to manage a huge turnout unlike any before at Stampede Park.
“The toughest part is, without ticket sales, we don’t know if we will have 6,000 or 9,000 or 12,000 people or more show up,” fire marshal Sam Wilde said.
Early arrival is especially important for people who have not already received a blue wristband that ensures one of 3,500 standing spots on the arena floor. Because there is no admission fee, there’s no way to know how many more people will seek out one of 6,000 available stadium seats.
The rodeo venue is designed with a 5,000 person capacity, Wilde said. Factoring in the arena floor and extra bleachers, he has set maximum attendance at 9,500.
“Once we reach that magic number, the gates will close,” he said.
Any more and occupancy will exceed the available exits and exit widths for emergency evacuation, he said.
Wilde and Cody Police Chief Chuck Baker, who is in charge of traffic, encourage people to arrive early.
“The last thing we want is for people to be disappointed if they can’t get in,” Wilde said. “We just want to make sure it’s a safe event for everyone.”
Baker expects people will arrive in tiers. Some people may arrive early to stake out a prime spot on the arena floor or capture an ideal seat in the stands. Others may delay arrival until the opening acts or Black’s performance start.
When gates open at Stampede Park, officers will attend each gate as people trickle in.
“As it gets closer to when the opening acts begin we’ll layer extra officers inside the venue,” he said.
The far west gate is reserved for emergency vehicles and buses only.
“We cannot allow people to come in and out there because of the number of people and fire code,” Baker said.
Instead, they should go to the east entrance or main Stampede Park gate.
Black will bring his own security. Local law enforcement will be on hand to provide a sense of security for spectators.
“Our role is to be a deterrent to those few who are prone to unacceptable behavior,” Baker said.
As with many large venues, people will go through security screening. The police chief recommended they leave prohibited items behind.
“It’ll be worthwhile to get there a little early and enjoy the events,” Baker said.
Those include several auctions and vendor goods.
Working a huge concert event is nothing new for Baker.
When in Commerce City, Colo., for close to a decade he was involved with traffic and security at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, an 18,000-seat stadium and 24-field complex.
He said 3.1 people arrive to concerts per vehicle on average.
“So we’re talking 3,000 cars,” he said of Black’s Killin’ Time concert.
That’s a “little past capacity” for Stampede Park parking areas that include a paved lot, an east lot for overflow and a couple of back lots, he said.
To get a sense of how many people to expect, Baker’s monitored Clint Black concert attendance elsewhere and has concluded the country music star who hit it big 30 years ago remains a popular draw.
People still like him and people like his concerts, he said.
“With a free event, you just don’t know,” he said. “We’ve planned for a sell-out.”
When Black steps on stage at 7, police will start setting up to manage exiting traffic.
“So by the time the concert is done they will be in place,” Baker said.
Ten police will direct traffic with the help of traffic cones, signs and rented light towers to illuminate parking lot exits. This year two lights are rented for rodeo events and three for the concert.
Anticipating more people and traffic will result in more incidents, additional patrol squads will be on duty during the concert timeframe.
In all, at the peak of activity, 25-30 officers will be on duty, Baker said.
Once Black exits the stage, people should allow at least 90 minutes to clear Stampede Park; possible more, he said. Typically, it takes 1 to 1-1/4 hour to clear the rodeo grounds during the Stampede.
“How efficiently we park people will have a lot to do with how efficiently we get them out,” he said, adding that patience, common sense and courtesy will go a long way.
“I can’t emphasize that enough,” he said. “But it is going to take a while.”
Walking is an option and certainly allowable, the police chief said.
But people need to be aware. Once cars start to flow out, pedestrian need to be cautious, as do drivers, he said. The portable tower lights should help with visibility.
Baker said the concert will be a great event for the community.
Wilde said arrangements have been made for a drone to be flown overhead to see how parking works and for an overall view during the event.
The information will be useful should similar events take place at Stampede Park in the future.
“It’s kind of a trial run for the Stampede board,” Wilde said.
Alternative transportation available
For convenience and to reduce traffic volume on West Yellowstone and at Stampede Park on Thursday, concert-goers are encouraged to car pool or ride a bus.
Cody Nite Rodeo buses and Cody Trolley are offering round-trip rides for $5 cash. Go to codytransportation.com for details.
For efficiency, Cody Police Chief Chuck Baker said one traffic lane at the rodeo grounds will remain open for the buses and trolleys to shuttle people back and fourth from designated pick-up locations.
To further reduce vehicle volume at Stampede Park, he recommends people car pool with friends and neighbors.
Items not allowed include backpacks, weapons, pets, coolers, umbrellas, pop-up tents, large bags. People may not bring alcohol, which is available for purchase from vendors on the rodeo grounds, and smoking is prohibited.
People who have obtained arena floor wristbands in advance may bring folding chairs and blankets.