Sold-out show will test Moncton's Avenir Centre transit plans

Thousands of Keith Urban fans will descend on downtown Moncton's Avenir Centre on Wednesday evening, testing months of transportation planning.

"We're asking people to obviously be patient as this is a first for all of us the entire community," said Isabelle LeBlanc​, the city's director of communications. "We'll work through it and hopefully everybody will have a great experience, great first experience, great concert and they'll be back for more."

The city's 8,800-seat facility was constructed without dedicated on-site parking other than accessible spaces.

The city hopes people will want to walk, carpool or take public transit when attending events at the $113-million arena that officially opened Saturday.

LeBlanc says people can use a website called mybestoption.ca to find information about how to get to the arena.

She suggests leaving early to avoid lineups at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m.

There is free and paid parking spots available in the downtown core, but LeBlanc said people should pay attention to where they're parking.

"Some private lots may have people at the entrance giving specific indications to people, 'sorry we're not open' or 'yes we are,' but just be very vigilant and make sure where you park is where you're allowed," LeBlanc said.

Philip Drost/CBC News

Earlier this year, the city approved a bylaw that clamps down on the use of wheel-lock devices on vehicles for parking violations. The bylaw limits the removal fee at $45.

Codiac Transpo will have extra buses running Wednesday night along the blue line heading toward Champlain Place mall and Dieppe, and along the green line toward Mountain Road and Plaza Boulevard.

For sold-out events like on Wednesday or other large events where more than 6,000 people are expected, LeBlanc said Codiac will add five or six extra buses. 

"So they're going to start that an hour before the show and they will have those extra buses on hand after the show at ten o'clock," LeBlanc said.

It will cost concert goers $2.50 to get to the show in bus fare, but it will be free after 10 p.m.

The aim is to move people out of the area after the show as quickly as possible, LeBlanc said.

Kate Letterick/CBC News

LeBlanc said people can be dropped off or picked up on Cameron Street and taxis will be stationed on Highfield Street near the Crowne Plaza hotel.

When the concert is over, people will not be allowed to drive on Canada Street except to pick up people using accessible parking spots. Police will be on hand to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Metal detectors and no re-entry policy

The Avenir Centre, run by SMG Canada, wants people attending the concert to know that enhanced security policies will be in place.

Metal detectors will be used. Purses and bags must be no larger than 14 inches by 14 inches and six inches and fit under arena seats. Backpacks, oversized luggage and coolers won't be allowed. Exceptions will be made for medically necessary items.

Don't expect to be able to leave for a smoke break. The Avenir Centre's policy states people won't be allowed to re-enter the arena after exiting, unless there's an emergency, childcare issue or medical reason, which will be determined on a case-by-case basis by events staff and security.

"The safety of our guests, as well as our employees, is of the utmost importance to us," said Nick DeLuco, the Avevir Centre's general manager.

Kate Letterick/CBC News

Isabelle LeBlanc said she's hopeful the concert goes smoothly.

"This is a once in a lifetime thing for us," LeBlanc said. "We're opening a new centre. We've got a sold out crowd for the first show we couldn't really ask for anything more."

She says it will be a learning experience for everyone involved.

"We have to go through a sold-out event, a large event, a medium event and a small event at least once to see what happens. Are we able to handle everything that's going on, are we OK what do we need to tweak?" she said.

LeBlanc said a meeting has been set for the end of the week to go over how the first big concert went.

The next concert scheduled for the centre features the band Chicago on Saturday. The Moncton Wildcats play their first home game on Sept. 28.