This post is going to be short, and it’s going to be a total bitch fest.
Xfinity Center. Formerly known as the Comcast Center. Formerly formerly known as the Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts.
It’s a shed venue on the outskirts of nowhere in Mansfield, MA. When you’re inside watching a band, any band, it is pretty much the best venue in New England. Well, the best one I’ve been to. It holds 19,000 people (we looked it up last night). It used to have six sections of seats under the roof and then a big swath of lawn seating beyond the end of the roof. Now it has four more sections of seating that used to be grass, and a little strip of grass seating about 18 million miles from the stage. Every show I’ve seen at this place since… the late 80’s? Early 90’s? I think I was still in high school the first time I went there… every show has sounded great and my sight lines have been pretty much perfect. I was outside of the roof when we saw Rush on the Test for Echo tour and it rained. There was another show more recently where we got stuck in the rain too. It was still a great experience.
All of that is once you’re inside the venue. What about everything else.
It’s the absolute worst. The total, be all end all of worst.
The traffic jam trying to get into the parking lot cost us about a half hour worth of our lives, and we were already late to begin with. It’s always a miserable experience trying to get in. There is one road. One entrance*. That’s it. No alternatives. Traffic backs up forever.
When you are inside it is a somewhat long walk to your seat. That’s not complaint worthy at all, it’s just a fact. What is complaint worthy is the fact that you can’t see the venue from the entrance. It’s all picturesque and pretty and all, but you can’t just look up and walk to where you need to be. You have to follow this long, meandering path. Of course it is littered with vendor booths, only some of which are related to the show. What’s worse is that I know there are signs directing you to where you need to be… you just can’t see them. They got lost in the tent clutter, or are only a few feet off the ground. It’s really tough to figure out where you need to be.
In the grand scheme of things though, those are minor complaints.
Here comes the big one…….
You can’t leave.
No matter how bad you want to go home after the show, you just can’t. Remember that thing about there being one entrance? Well that means there’s only one exit too.
19,000 people… that’s a lot of cars. A lot of cars. All of them trying to leave at the same time… through one exit.
Because we were late to the show last night our car was parked in a remote lot. Far, far from the venue. The show ended at 10:55. Since we’ve been coming to this place for decades, we knew not to join the mad rush for the exits. We sat down in our seats and waited until we were asked to leave. Once the staff started kicking people out we started the long trek back to the car. We got there at 11:19. Yes, there was a bathroom stop involved too, full disclosure.
We piled into the car, I tried playing the Powerslave album at Mike’s request but there wasn’t enough cell signal and it kept crapping out. Since we were toward the end of the rush, there were already a lot of cars pulled out of their spots. Maybe half of them. They were all stopped by the traffic jam. Not surprising.
No one moved. As time passed everyone continued to not move. I finally saw tail lights in the distance that were not sitting still at 12:11. Just shy of one hour after we got to the car. I pulled out of the parking spot and found a place in line. We inched along, along with everyone else, slowly making our way toward the one exit. When we finally reached route 140 it was 12:34. I have to say, 23 minutes from spot to road was much faster than I expected it to be.
We then sat in traffic on 140 because there were 19,000 people all being directed to the same highway ramp… whether you actually wanted to go that way or not. We weren’t given a choice. 140 to 495 South. Fortunately, that’s where we wanted to go.
Once we got onto 495 it was simple. 495 South to 95 North to 93 North. We met at Larry’s work so I dropped them off there and then continued home. I walked in the door at 1:40, was in bed by 1:42, and asleep by 1:45.
What a friggin’ nightmare. I knew it was going to happen, because it’s been happening at this place for 30 years. I think that’s the part that pisses me off the most. Not that it’s a logistical kick in the crotch, but that it’s the same logistical kick in the crotch that it’s been since I was in high school. Nothing has changed. Nothing is ever going to change.
Best venue in the region… worst location/design in the universe.
*we actually stumbled on a second exit, but it was 20 feet away from the main exit. They have added an Uber specific entrance. We saw it when we drove in and of course there was no one there. That entrance became our exit, but it didn’t really affect anything as it just meant that we merged with the main exit at route 140 instead of while we were still in the parking lot.