The Worst of Cleveland: Parking and Entering Blossom Music Center

The Worst of Cleveland: Parking and Entering Blossom Music Center

Blossom itself, it should go without saying, is a gem of a venue. A slice of bucolic heaven where the music is made better by the surrounding nature and vice versa.

Getting into and out of the facility is a whole 'nother thing.

Complaints about traffic in Cleveland should always be taken with a Cargill-sized dosage of salt. This isn't L.A. or Chicago, after all. No one has to commute three hours to inch five miles down the road. But when it comes to gripes regarding the unending bumper-to-bumper hellscape at Blossom for a sold-out show, no one is exaggerating. Believe every story you hear about the place. They are all true. Some dad who went to the Jimmy Buffett show last year is still trying to get home. A couple of pals who went to Dave Matthews Band in 2016 became so frustrated by the snaking river of unmoving cars after the show they simply walked into the woods and now live off the land.

Fifty-one years ago, the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra opened the state-of-the-art bandshelled amphitheater for its summer home. But to get its money's worth, the orchestra's parent organization, the Musical Arts Association, allowed outside concert promoters to bring in huge touring shows, as Live Nation does today.

The main problem is that while the venue has a 23,000-person capacity, the heavily forested spot is landlocked inside the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and offers only three entrances. To preserve the nature of the green 200-acre space, the roads are windy and annoying. These beautiful trees can't just be hacked down to allow for a convenient car exit, or an easy Lyft pick-up zone. So after a sold-out show you may have to wait two hours in one of the many parking lots for car lines to even start to die down. Point of clarification: You absolutely will, should you stay till the very end, endure an hour-long exit. Some try and get smart and leave the show early, but that means missing part of a concert you paid good money to attend. (Honestly, it's worth it. The difference of leaving before, during or after the encore can mean the difference between an easy ride home and an aggravating bottleneck that will take you into the next day.)

Entering isn't bad, but the situation can get dire for shows that involve tailgating, which involves alcohol, which means frequent nature calls and oh-so-few legitimate destinations in which to answer. With so few port-o-potties in the parking lots (which Blossom should remedy) those lines get long fast, so people resort to going between cars and nearby bushes. Genitalia is out everywhere.

Because of its location, the traffic issue at Blossom isn't going to be solved in the foreseeable future. But might we suggest skipping the next concert by whichever aging rock star, and heading to a Cleveland Orchestra classical concert instead? Lines are minimal, you can bring in your own booze and food, and lawn tickets start at $25.

— Laura Morrison

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