If you don’t know a back way to your favorite places in Columbia, it might be a good time to get out your map and get to work.
When the Missouri football team plays Nebraska at 6 p.m. Saturday, it would probably be best to do one of two things: avoid the intersection of Providence Road and Stadium Boulevard or plan on spending the evening at home.
The game is sold out, and the crowd is expected to top 68,000.
Lyn Woolford, a traffic officer for the Columbia Police Department, said the best bet is to avoid the Memorial Stadium area starting at least as early as 3 p.m.
“We emphasize that there will be an increased amount of traffic volume and that traffic flow will be slow,” Woolford said. “If they know a different route, they should take it for sure.”
Woolford said the 6 p.m. start time makes it harder to predict when the peak traffic times might be because fans coming from out of town have all day to get to Columbia.
The late start isn’t all bad, though.
“The advantage is that the game is late, so we don’t expect a huge rush at any particular time,” Woolford said. “People will trickle in all day, so that will be an advantage for us.”
Woolford said the influx of traffic could start as early as noon, but the police department will begin its additional traffic controls starting three hours before the game. Woolford said this year the department is trying a new tactic to ease traffic.
“One thing we’re trying this year is to get people who are driving in from the west to pass Stadium and exit at Providence Road,” Woolford said. “We didn’t have much luck the first two games, but we’ll try again.”
Long lines in traffic near Memorial Stadium could mean shorter waits around the rest of Columbia. The big crowd at the game could free up options that are normally a hassle on a Saturday night. If you’re looking to catch a movie, you might be in luck.
Maria White, a manager-in-training at Forum 8 Theaters, said Saturday night would be a good time to avoid long lines and big crowds at the movie theater.
“If it’s a big game, it’s really slow right before and during the game,” White said.
If you’re looking for some good food but want to keep one eye on the game, get there early. Restaurants and bars that will show the game expect big crowds.
Ben Mattis, a bartender at Buffalo Wild Wings, said he expects steady business all day. Mattis said the restaurant could get really busy after the game, especially if the Tigers win.“Usually the tables start filling up for the game about an hour before,” Mattis said. “We’re going to be busy either way, but it depends on rain. It depends on whether people tailgate or not. If it rains, we’ll get really crazy.”
If you would rather stay in than dine out, but you don’t feel like cooking, be careful when and from where you order delivery. The increased traffic around game time and increased orders might cause slightly longer delivery times.
Jon Rice, general manager of Papa John’s Pizza on Forum Boulevard, said business always picks up on game days, so he offers a few suggestions for ordering pizza for the game. Rice saidthose who want to get their pizza before the game starts should order about an hour before kickoff, but he revealed a secret to getting your food faster.
“During the game we’re slower because nobody calls during the game,” Rice said. “So it’s probably best to wait until after kickoff.”
At any rate, Rice said delivery times shouldn’t be much slower than normal because the delivery drivers know alternative routes to avoid the heavy traffic areas.
“It always slows it up just a little bit,” Rice said. “It’s not too bad. They know their way around.”
If you need to get anywhere else in town, maybe that delivery driver can give you some tips.