The city of Madison is taking traffic precautions to handle the swell of visitors and badger alumni coming to town to celebrate the University of Wisconsin-Madison 107th homecoming Friday.
Local businesses, hotels and law enforcement are preparing for the arrival of thousands of UW-Madison alumni and other visitors by beefing up their staff, reserving parking and tracking traffic patterns.
“We’re very lucky. We usually sell out,” said Tara Marko the sales manager at Hampton Inn & Suites Sales. “We fill all the 194 rooms and I would say especially this year we’ve sold out every football game.”
Homecoming week often garners a large crowd that travels to Madison to attend activities such as the parade featuring the UW marching band, the football game and other alumni activities created by the homecoming committee.
Though there are activities all week, most visitors arrive on Friday to kick off the weekend, according to Nicki Kelly, assistant general manager at Hampton Inn & Suites.
“We try to accommodate them with the early check in requests as much as we can,” Kelly said. “And that’s when the party starts.”
One of the reasons homecoming is such as annual hit is due to the careful planning that goes into the event, according to local law enforcement.
“We’re all cognizant of what happens to our city when there are events and when there are very popular events,” said Lieutenant Brian Chaney Austin of the Madison Police Department. “Fortunately for us we are well-versed in that. It’s what brings a lot of people to Madison every year.”
One of the city’s biggest concerns is how to handle an influx of traffic this weekend, according to Austin. The intersections between State street and West Johnson and West Gorham are predicted to be extremely busy as people try and maneuver throughout the Isthmus.
Langdon, Gilman and parts of State street will be closed for the parade starting at 6 p.m.
For the Badger Report, I’m Owen Desai.
Photographer: Lilly Price