Thousands of spectators and participants will head to the Alliant Energy Center grounds starting early Thursday to take part in the Reebok CrossFit Games, which could cause traffic problems on the Beltline, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office said.

The competition runs from Thursday to Sunday, with traffic expected to start heading into the complex at 7 a.m. each day and leaving around 6 p.m. Thursday and Sunday and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“They will be arriving during the height of the morning commute, so authorities expect both the eastbound and westbound lanes of the Beltline to be congested,” said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Elise Schaffer.

“There will also be a mass exit at the end of each day that could impact the surrounding areas,” she said.

Four gates will be open at the Alliant Energy Center, on Olin Avenue, Rusk Avenue, John Nolen Drive and Rimrock Road.

Law enforcement will direct traffic at the main gate on Rimrock Road as well as at the Rimrock Road and Rusk Avenue intersection and the John Nolen Drive and Rimrock Road intersection. Electronic message boards will be put up on the Beltline to help direct motorists.

“The Sheriff’s Office asks motorists who can avoid the Beltline near Rimrock Road and John Nolen Drive to do so,” Schaffer said.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.