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DALLAS Traffic is one of the biggest concerns surrounding the Mavericks victory parade on Thursday morning.

Thousands of fans are expected to flood downtown Dallas for the 10 a.m. parade, with most of them arriving in rush hour traffic.

The parade route begins at the Dallas Convention Center, then travels west on Young Street past the WFAA studios; north on Houston Street at Union Station, past Dealey Plaza to Continental Avenue and then jogs west one block to Victory Avenue for the final half-mile to the American Airlines Center.

Dallas city leaders are encouraging Mavs fans to use DART trains and buses and the Trinity Railway Express to travel downtown and for good reason.

Do the math: They expect up to 250,000 people along the parade route.

Downtown Dallas has 68,000 parking spaces, only 70 percent of which are open to the public. Most are in parking garages, but there are also outdoor lots.

It's going to be first-come, first-serve, said John Crawford of Downtown Dallas Inc. The earlier you get here, the easier it's going to be to find a place to park.

Crawford's organization recently did a study on downtown parking. Their conclusion: Inadequate signs and other factors make parking downtown a difficult task.

They, too, advise fans to use mass transit. If you choose to drive, remember downtown streets will start closing at 8 a.m. The further away you park from the parade route, the more spaces you're likely to find.

We'll probably leave the house around five and park around here somewhere, said Mavs fan Arthur Anderson, who was scouting a location on Wednesday.

Since we'll be here around 6:30, we're hoping that it's not going to be that bad, said Irene Barrientos, who is also going to the victory parade. I think if anyone comes later than that, it's going to be difficult.

But even without a huge parade, finding parking in downtown Dallas can be a challenge. Parade planners say if you are not familiar with downtown, heed these two simple words: Arrive early.

DART and the TRE will have extra trains running into downtown Dallas on Thursday morning. DART will operate every 10 minutes instead of every 15.

Transit officials recommend arriving 20 to 30 minutes before your train departure to buy a ticket from the automated vending machines.

Selected stations will also have ticket-sellers accepting cash only from 7 to 10 a.m. A DART day pass for local rail and bus lines is $4; the charge is $7 for travel on express bus routes. A $10 regional day pass is required for travel on the TRE from the Hurst/Bell station and points west.

The traffic situation has officials encouraging fans to linger downtown after the parade, and that could mean a boom for businesses.

Bars and restaurants along the parade route were busy stocking up and scheduling extra staff on Wednesday.

I ordered twice the amount of beer I usually order, said Gators bartender Whitney Ferguson. It will probably last me till the end of the day. We'll see... try to sell it all.

Other businesses are offering special incentives to stop by. The Havana Social Club near Victory Park is offering a free breakfast to the first 30 to 40 people that arrive at 10 o'clock.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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