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Everything you need to know about parking during the NCAA tournament in Columbia

The stars and storylines for the NCAA Tournament in Columbia

The State's Andrew Ramspacher previews the stars and storylines for the NCAA Tournament in Columbia.
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The State's Andrew Ramspacher previews the stars and storylines for the NCAA Tournament in Columbia.

Twenty-five thousand visitors are expected in Columbia for the first and second rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament March 22-24. That means downtown parking will be at a true premium.

Here’s what you need to know about navigating Columbia if you’re trying to get to Colonial Life Arena or just want to make it to happy hour this week.

Free satellite parking and shuttles

On open practice and game days (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), you can park your car at one of these locations and take a free shuttle to Colonial Life Arena, as parking will be limited around the arena.

Gamecock Park, 76 National Guard Road

405 Gervais St., at the corner of Gervais and Huger streets

1308 Rosewood Drive, across from the State Fairgrounds

The shuttles will also pick up outside a dozen downtown hotels.

The shuttles will run from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and will start two hours before the first game begins Sunday and end two hours after the final game ends.

Downtown parking fees

On-street parking meters cost $0.75 per hour every day except Sunday, when they’re free. Normal city parking garage rates are up to $10 for a full day.

Special event fees will be charged at some garages during the tournament.

On Thursday, the Park Street garage will be free during the open practice sessions.

On Friday, the Park and Lincoln street garages will charge a flat $30 fee.

On Saturday, the Park and Lincoln street garages will charge a flat $10.

And on Sunday, the Park and Lincoln street garages will charge a flat $30.

Select garage parking spaces can be reserved in advance online through Innovista Parking.

Street closures

Streets around Colonial Life Arena will be closed all day Thursday and Friday in the same patterns as normal USC basketball games.

Greene Street will be closed from Lincoln to Gadsden streets.

Lincoln Street will be closed from College to Greene streets.

Free Soda Cap Connector bus

You’ll find the bright teal and pink buses running between West Columbia, the Vista, Main Street and Five Points from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and two hours before the first game Sunday until two hours after the last game.

Deals on Uber, Lyft and bike-share

If you take a COMET bus ride, you will have access to special discount codes for ride-shares and BlueBike bicycles, which are stationed around downtown. Information about COMET bus routes and fares is available at www.catchthecomet.com.

You can find even more details about NCAA tournament parking and transportation at www.columbiascsports.com/parking-transportation.

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