HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Thousands of people have their tickets for some entertainment downtown. For two straight nights, leaders at the Von Braun Center are expecting big crowds. And with nearby construction, parking spots may be a little harder to find.
More than two hours before puck drop, Ryan Kroman and his family are early to the party.
"There's free T-shirts tonight and the first 2,000 people get one, so we wanted to make sure we got one," Kroman said.
Near sunset, the line outside Propst Arena was out to the street.
"Not a lot of times you get back to back nights with your close rivals, it's usually an up and back," Huntsville Havoc President Ashley Balch said.
The Havoc are expecting thousands of fans for a two-night home stand with the Birmingham Bulls. Next door at the Mars Music Hall, nearly 2,000 fans have tickets to back to back sold-out shows for country music star Riley Green.
"I expect it to be packed out tonight," Riley Green fan Braydee Scott said.
"Riley Green's the GOAT," Riley Green fan Lucas Sparks said.
With a weekend doubleheader of both hockey and live music, parking will be a little tighter. So, the city of Huntsville sent out information for people, including five parking lots and garages, all within a short walk of the VBC and almost 3,000 parking spaces for people to find.
Old Meadow Gold Parking Lot (Lot V)
- 300 spaces
- Surface lot on Clinton Avenue next to VBC
VBC/Monroe Street Garage (Garage M)
- 1,000 spaces
- Directly across from VBC Mark C. Smith Concert Hall
Lot K on Clinton Ave
- 500 spaces
- 318 Fountain Circle
Gates Avenue Garage
- 500 spaces
- Entrance on Gates Ave
- Across from City Hall next to Early Works
"It makes Huntsville so much better," Balch said. "It makes the downtown area so much better to have these events going on."
With the first of two new hotels being built across the street from the VBC, a few hundred parking spaces are gone, so drivers are being directed to the garage on Monroe and the 500 spaces at Lot 'K' on Clinton.
"I think it's great for the city to grow like it is," Kroman said.
"Don't come in with a lot of expectations of getting anywhere quick. Just be patient, take your time, give yourself some time, come early," Balch said.
It may not be a quick getaway for fans heading home, but it promises to be bustling all weekend downtown.
The VBC is also hosting a Broadway show and a boat show this weekend.