ARLINGTON — Larry Anderson went to great lengths to avoid traffic hassles this weekend in Arlington, where Texas Christian University will kick off its football season Saturday against Louisiana State University at AT&T Stadium.The game, which is expected to draw about 80,000 spectators — and thousands of tailgaters — is scheduled to begin at 8:06 p.m. Saturday. Meanwhile, across the street at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the Texas Rangers are scheduled to play Minnesota, with first pitch at 7:05 p.m. The neighboring games could collectively bring more than 120,000 into Arlington’s entertainment district — creating a shortage of parking and tailgating spots.Anderson, who plans to host a party with 20 to 25 friends, beat the rush by reserving a spot for his recreational vehicle on Wednesday —but he had to pay extra for it. He originally bought a parking pass for the TCU/LSU game, but found out that he wouldn’t be allowed in the parking lot until 7 a.m. Friday, because the Dallas Cowboys had a home preseason game against the Houston Texans Thursday night.Not wanting to wait that long to begin tailgating for the TCU/LSU game, Anderson, a retiree, also bought a pass for the Cowboys’ preseason game, which granted him access to the parking lot on Wednesday. He spent a total of $400 on parking for the weekend.“It’s worth it, so I don’t have to think about traffic,” he said. “It’s like a vacation.”Ready for the massesHosting two big events at once creates special challenges for Arlington police and other officials responsible for ensuring traffic keeps moving in and out of the city, but in the four years since AT&T Stadium opened they say they’ve become quite good at handling the large crowds.The biggest pinch involves the Rangers parking lots, which are normally used as cash parking for AT&T Stadium events. But when the Rangers are in town, those lots are only available to motorists who can show the attendants a baseball ticket.Even so, surrounding businesses have become quite adept at absorbing overflow parking around AT&T Stadium, and making a pretty penny in the process, officials said. Arlington businesses that are pre-approved to offer game day parking are marked by signs with a green circle and the letter “p.”Cowboys officials encourage those who wish to reserve a tailgating spot near AT&T Stadium to arrive early. Parking lots are scheduled to open at 2 p.m. Saturday, and plazas and stadium gates will open at 6 p.m., an official said.Cooking is only allowed in the grassy lawn spots on the perimeter of parking areas.“The tailgating groups usually come out with just one or two vehicles, so we should have plenty of lawn space,” said Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels. “Then others arrive in cars and park elsewhere and join the tailgating group. With over 12,000 parking spaces, it provides quite a bit of coverage.”‘It’s a road game for us’ Although LSU has a decades-long tradition of tailgating — Tiger fans came in droves when LSU beat Texas A&M in the 2011 Cotton Bowl at then-Cowboy Stadium — TCU fans also have developed a reputation of loyal parking lot patronage.Miles Brissette, an assistant criminal district attorney in Tarrant County, has been holding court at TCU’s traditional home field, Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, since 1994. His tailgating crew includes several dozen members of the Fort Worth-area law enforcement community and their family members. Sometimes they’ll take the time to barbecue ribs before a game, while other times they’ll keep it simple and offer deli meats.Occasionally, when TCU plays an early kickoff game, they’ll serve breakfast — and fellow officers at the game are welcome to come by and eat, or just grab a bottle of water.But for Saturday’s game, the group is somewhat scaling back its tailgating plans. Instead of bringing along the group’s customized trailer, which includes a smoker and two generators to run flat screen televisions and satellite dishes, they’ll bring only whatever food and cooking appliances they can fit into a Chevy Suburban.They’re scaling back partly because they expect a big crowd and high demand on tailgating space at AT&T Stadium.TCU isn’t traveling far to play the game in Arlington. But, Brissette said, “It’s a road game for us going over there.”To minimize traffic problems, the LSU Tarrant Tigers Alumni Chapter, which is based in the Fort Worth area, is hosting a party at Humperdink’s in Arlington beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. Fans can take advantage of shuttle rides to the stadium for a small fee, said Gary Taylor of Fort Worth, group treasurer.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796 Twitter: @gdickson