Lack Of Accessibility
Ashley Fox/Instagram

Lack Of Accessibility In NFL Stadiums With ADA Rules

Lack of Accessibility in NFL Stadiums is a topic most people will never bring up since the issue has never been addressed in the media.

Buying accessible seats for NFL games is more complicated than just buying a ticket in Section 210 for regular seats. I wasn’t aware of the extra steps disabled people have to take just to secure a seat to watch a football game until Ashley Fox, who has Type 2 spinal muscular atrophy, expressed her concerns while looking for NFL tickets this upcoming season.

“WHERE DID THEY GO?” Ashley Fox said the night the NFL game tickets were released. She was looking at buying tickets for the Philadelphia Eagles vs the Los Angeles Chargers game on Sunday, November 7. Accessible seats weren’t available after game tickets were released that same day. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that new stadiums have to obtain a certain amount of seats within stadiums.

“At least one percent of seating must be wheelchair seating locations.”

https://www.ada.gov/stadium.txt

The NFL’s lowest full capacity of fans is held at Soldier Field, which is the Chicago Bears’ stadium at 61,500. The highest capacity of fans is held at MetLife Stadium, with 82,500. With 30 other NFL team’s full capacity of fans falling between 61,000 and 82,000, disabled people only have roughly 610 to 820 seats. That’s less than 1,000 seats for disabled people per NFL stadium. The lack of accessibility is clear. The NFL teams can renovate their stadium seats to add more accessible seats. Even if that means removing regular seats, teams will still have a full stadium during games.

“Very small percentage. Very sad. Disabled people make up over 25% of the United States population so 1% of stadium seating is a slap in the face for a quarter of the population,” Fox said.

Ashley mentioned how the process of securing your seat at games is also another challenge.

“They don’t sell ADA tickets on certain websites, we have to buy regular admission tickets. Then go to guest services and exchange them for an accessible seat. You don’t necessarily have a selection of seats. You get whatever is available,” Fox said.

People who aren’t disabled have the freedom of choosing where they want to sit to watch a football game. But disabled people have to hope when they are given a decent seat. Something as simple as buying tickets and seating is an additional hinder to a disabled person’s experience. I would be upset if someone else chose my seat for me. Ashley said even when there is an option to filter accessible seats on Ticketmaster, accessible seats aren’t guaranteed to show availability online.

Ashley said other challenges attending a game include increased prices for parking due to the first-floor priority for handicap parking. Also, the difficulties of going inside of the gift shop with a wheelchair because of the clothing racks.

“I feel like it’s evident disabled people aren’t really thought of when attending games as far as tailgating, buying tickets, parking, and at the gift shops,” Fox said.

Ashley said she wants to see changes in making it easier for disabled people to buy tickets and go to the game, making gift shops accessible, and even making them feel welcomed by enforcing those practices at stadiums. Ashley expressed sorrow in her tone as she left a message for the NFL.

“There is a lot of us who watch football who watch football and love it. It’s our favorite thing in the world and to not be able to go to games without chaos. It’s exhausting. You have the resources to do better,” Fox said.

Over a quarter of the population is made up of disabled people. They should be treated fairly in every public and private setting. I would never have thought disabled people have no control over which seat they are getting when attending NFL games or deal with overpriced tickets for accessible seats. That is an extra stressor disabled people go through where they don’t feel equal to individuals who aren’t disabled.

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