THOUSANDS of footy fans are expected to flock to Mars Stadium when AFL returns to Ballarat this March.
The Western Bulldogs will open their JLT Community Series campaign when they clash with Hawthorn on Saturday 3 March.
To accommodate the large crowds, the City of Ballarat will provide a free shuttle bus and park and ride service.
The Public Transport Victoria scheduled V/Line services will each include six carriages for passengers travelling to and from Ballarat on the day.
These services include the 10.40am, 11.40am, 12.40pm and 13.40pm services from Melbourne, and 17.13 and 16.13 services to Melbourne.
Parking and traffic conditions will change on 3 March to improve safety for footy fans and motorists.
The City of Ballarat will provide free shuttle bus services from the CBD, and a park and ride service from Heinz Lane.
With limited parking at Mars Stadium, patrons are encouraged to utilise these services.
Footy-goers are encouraged to take advantage of the 2000 car parks available at Midlands Golf Club in Heinz Lane and catch the free shuttle bus to Mars Stadium.
The free shuttle bus will travel to and from Mars Stadium on a continuous loop from 11am.
Shuttle services will depart from the Ballarat Train Station from 10.30am.
These services will run on a continuous loop.
Post-game, the free shuttle service will depart from Mars Stadium and will drop off passengers in Sturt Street, across from the Ballarat Town Hall.
Both free shuttle bus and park and ride services will continue from 3.30pm following the match until patrons have dispersed.
While Creswick Road will remain open to traffic, patrons will not have access to parking along this stretch of road between Howitt and Norman Streets on game day.
This area will be set aside to accommodate accessible parking, as well as, buses.
However, approximately 400 free dedicated AFL parks will be available at the corner of Norman and Dowling Streets.
A drop-off and pick-up point will also be available for patrons in Norman Street, at the Creswick Road end.
A separate zone has been set aside on Creswick Road for taxis.
Residents and businesses near Mars Stadium may be impacted by overflow parking. Short delays are expected and road users are reminded to approach the area with caution.
City of Ballarat local laws parking enforcement staff will be circulating the area to ensure property access is available for businesses and residences.