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Floored! Traffic chaos costs wrestling fan £460

Congestion ruins family night out

By Claire McNeilly

Published 31/10/2007

An Ulster woman who forked out almost £500 for a wrestling event that she didn't get to see has hit out at parking facilities at the Odyssey.

WWE fan Ann Marshall (37), from Cookstown, bought eight tickets for her sister and their six children to attend the WWE-Raw show earlier this month.

But, despite her best efforts to get there, Mrs Marshall was left stuck in traffic for three hours before she finally reached the Odyssey - after the show was over.

"I spent the whole weekend in tears," she said.

"It was a lot of money. It was £460 for the tickets themselves, plus the booking fee.

"We left Cookstown at 5.45pm to get there for the 7.30pm show. We joined the queue heading to the Odyssey around 6.30pm, but at 9.45pm we were still in a queue of traffic."

Mrs Marshall said that her family had attended many WWE events at the Belfast complex in the past, without experiencing any difficulties.

" We were a good mile away from the Odyssey at 8.30pm," she said. " So I actually walked the kids from the car to the door of the complex so they could see a bit of the show.

"There seemed to be loads of people in the same boat and there were a lot of children crying and wailing because they couldn't get in."

Mrs Marshall said that she called the police when she was in the queue to report the traffic congestion.

She said she also went to the information desk at the complex after the show to complain abut what had happened.

" When I asked about compensation I was referred to the Odyssey Trust, which is in charge of car parking," she said.

"When I phoned I was told that it's no big secret that there are only 1,500 parking spaces there.

"I was very upset. The kids were upset too. We had really been looking forward to the show. Instead, I spent the whole night in the car and they only saw a bit of it."

She added: "I'm really, really afraid that this will happen again."

Rob Vick, marketing director at the Odyssey, said he was aware "on the night that traffic was unusually bad".

He added: "However, by the scheduled start time for the event there were no queues to get into the venue and the vast majority of customers were in the Arena."

In a statement, the Odyssey Trust also accepted that some people experienced travel and parking difficulties that night while attending the WWE-Raw event.

"Friday evening was extremely busy on the roads with events being held at the Waterfront Hall, Custom House Square and at the Odyssey Arena, all of which contributed to the traffic congestion," it read.

" The status of the Odyssey car park is displayed on Variable Message Signage along the main arterial routes to the venue showing 'Spaces', 'Almost Full' and 'Full' and advise drivers on alternative parking.

"When the car park is full 'on site' attendants will inform visitors on alternative parking close to the venue. The Odyssey Trust work closely with the regulatory bodies which have the responsibility for traffic control both within the Harbour Estate and external to Odyssey."

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