Don't say we didn't warn you: The Legends of the Summer concert tour could be the centerpiece of a legendary traffic snarl Friday night.
In what is without a doubt the season's biggest music event, Jay Z and Justin Timberlake will bring their monster tour to Candlestick Park that evening. This might concern you even if you're not one of the roughly 53,000 music fans planning to attend. That's because the concert is just the biggest of several Bay Area events that get started about the same time.
The first thing to know is this: Highway 101 will likely be a nightmare. If you don't have to drive on it, don't.
In addition to the Candlestick concert, rocker John Mayer will be playing Shoreline Amphitheatre, where 15,000 to 16,000 people are expected to attend. And the San Francisco Giants are playing at AT&T Park, so you can count on around 40,000 fans.
Think you get off easy if you're in the East Bay? Sorry. The Oakland A's are playing at home against the division rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that night. With the team in first place, a turnout of 20,000 to 25,000 fans seems a safe bet, while indie-rock band the Postal Service plays a sold-out show (8,500 seats) at UC Berkeley's Greek Theatre.
That adds up to more than 140,000 ticket holders trying to get to Bay Area events around 7 p.m. And, of course, there is the regular Friday night commute -- which is rarely fun.
It could turn out to be "the granddaddy of them all," says KQED traffic reporter Joe McConnell. "What a nightmare," he says. "It's going to be a real mess."
"It's pretty phenomenal," agrees Chris Martinez, marketing director for Live Nation, which is promoting the Candlestick concert and Shoreline concerts. "It's an anomaly to have so many big events on one night."
And it's not something anyone's looking forward to.
Atoosa Savarnejad, of San Jose, says she hopes that by leaving the South Bay no later than 3 p.m. she'll get to Candlestick at a reasonable time, though she's still worried.
"I am hoping to get there before 4 p.m.," she said. "That's my plan. I don't know if it will happen."
Live Nation, which surely hasn't forgotten the traffic and parking woes generated by 2011's U2 concert in Oakland, has gone so far as to create a website dedicated to commuting options and tips for the Jay Z-Timberlake show. The site, www.ticketmaster.com/jtjzcommute, lists public transportation options for getting to the show.
Officials say public transportation should be the first option. Because that won't work for everyone, the Live Nation-promoted site includes tips for drivers, as well. Shuttle service is also being offered to Candlestick from the San Mateo County Event Center (formerly the county fairgrounds) before and after the show. It costs $10 to park at the fairgrounds and $25 to take the shuttle. Shuttle tickets must be bought in advance at www.ticketmaster.com/event/1C004AEBE0E1827E.
Another option is to get there early. Live Nation is hoping to encourage this with discounted parking rates: $25 if you arrive before 4:30 p.m., $40 afterward.
While 101 will take the worst hit, westbound commuters on the San Mateo, Dumbarton and Bay bridges are also facing a rough trek. Drivers who normally use these routes are advised to consider other options.
Officials also remind motorists that the big events will all be serving alcohol, and drunken drivers will be a concern later in the evening.
Even with awareness raised, it's still likely to be a tough night for commuters all around the bay. So be ready for it.
"It you do drive," says Paul Rose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, "pack some patience."
Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.
Tips on getting there
Planning to go to Candlestick Park for the Legends of the Summer tour? Some advice:
Arrive early: Parking at Candlestick is $25 before 4:30 p.m., $40 afterward. The concert is scheduled to start at 7:30.
Take the shuttle: Shuttle service, to and from Candlestick, will be offered from the San Mateo County Event Center (formerly the fairgrounds). It costs $10 to park at the fairgrounds and $25 for the shuttle. Shuttle service must be reserved in advance through www.ticketmaster.com/event/1C004AEBE0E1827E. Also helpful is the website for the San Mateo County Event Center: www.sanmateoexpo.org.
Explore other options: Go to Live Nation's Web page dedicated specifically to the Jay Z-Timberlake show: www.ticketmaster.com/jtjzcommute.
Public transportation resources: CalTrain, www.caltrain.com; Muni, www.sfmta.com; BART, www.bart.gov.