CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city has doubled the length of the Blackhawks parade route and added TVs outside Soldier Field after free tickets to the rally at Soldier Field sold out and scalpers began selling the tickets online.
The parade will now start at Washington Boulevard and Racine Avenue, run east along Washington to Desplaines Street, then run south on Desplaines to Monroe Street, and finally east on Monroe to Michigan Avenue, Mayor Emanuel's office said.
The city will also add three large TV screens in the south parking lot of Soldier Field for fans who do not have tickets to the rally.
At exactly 12 p.m. Wednesday, fans hoping to score free tickets to the rally had to be logged into Ticketmaster and then wait. It took Joe Magoonaugh about 18 minutes in a virtual waiting room before he got the good news.
"Then the screen popped up with 4 tickets in section 303. It says they are limited view, but four tickets. We're in," Magoonaugh said.
With a capacity of about 65,000 people at Soldier Field, many others are not in - and they vented on social media.
Within minutes of the sellout, the free tickets were posted on Craigslist, some going for as much as $400, $800, or even $5,000 each. As fast as they were going up, Craigslist flagged them for removal.
"We are asking people to not go that route of purchasing tickets from a scalper, you don't know if it's valid," said David Kennedy, Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
And on Change.org, more than 6,000 have signed a petition to move the Blackhawks rally outdoors. The creator says: "The City of Chicago and Mayor have butted their heads into the rally and ruined it for most."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged Grant Park was the city's first choice, like the rally two years ago, but the recent rain meant there would be too much damage.
"It would rip it up in a way that would create millions, and millions of dollars in damage," Emanuel said.
And while fans continue to complain about the access - or lack thereof - to Soldier Field, those who did get tickets see the benefits to a controlled environment over Grant Park.
"It's rainy out today, it's probably going to be a mud pit out there. So, throw on your poncho go down to Soldier Field and celebrate the parade," Magoonaugh said.
The city said there will be "zero tolerance for drinking" at the parade. Food and beverages will be sold Thursday at Soldier Field, but no alcohol will be for sale. Tailgating, strollers and coolers are prohibited.
Chicago police said anyone carrying a backpack or large bag will be screened.
GETTING TO THE PARTY
Fans are encouraged to take public transportation on Thursday. Streets along the parade route will be shut down at 9 a.m.
Anyone who decides to drive should be aware that they may not be able to get into parking garages in the area, the city said. The parking lot at Soldier Field will open at 5 a.m. and cost drivers $20.
The CTA will provide additional service on the elevated lines after the morning rush from midday on Thursday. Several bus routes will be re-routed downtown because of parade.
The CTA expects trains and buses to be more crowded than usual on Thursday. Officials urge riders to fold strollers and carts before boarding. Bikes will not be allowed on "L" trains on Thursday. But they are always allowed on all buses, using the racks on the front of the bus.
Fans who choose to take Metra can get an unlimited ride ticket for $5. Check out the schedule for additional service on Thursday at metrarail.com.
"We'll expand cars as we can and we'll add trains as we can. People have to remember we do have to operate our normal morning rush hour in the morning and in rush hour, we're already using every piece of equipment we own," Metra spokesperson Michael Gillis said.
Metra reminds riders trains are expected to be crowded. Loading could delay trains about 10 minutes, and inbound trains may reach capacity along the way. Outbound trains may also leave early. Riders should check the website for updated departure and arrival times before leaving for the station.
Alcohol and bicycles will be prohibited and "quiet car" rules will not be enforced on Thursday.
If necessary, Union Station said an overcrowding plan may be employed to move passengers around the concourse area.