tips for wheelchair-accessible seating at sporting events

Wheelchair Accessible Seating Hacks

Who has dealt with the frustration of securing wheelchair-accessible seats?  It can be a pain in the neck sometimes. Over the years I’ve gone to hundreds of sporting events and concerts. The one thing I have learned is patience and kindness pay off. The Americans With Disabilities Act is far from perfect but it has helped people with disabilities, like spinal muscular atrophy, to access sporting events and concerts a little easier.

Know where the venue's ADA stand is

All venues have some sort of an ADA stand. It’s usually near guest services. This is a great resource on the day of your event. If you experience any issues with your seats they will be able to assist you. Maybe there is a really tall person in front of you blocking your sight lines or the wheelchair-accessible space is too small to accommodate you. These are some incidents where the ADA event staff can step in.

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Exchanging regular seats for accessible seats

Another way they can assist is if you don’t have accessible tickets. I have never had an issue with changing out “regular” seats for accessible seats at the event. The trick that I’ve always found is to treat the event staff with as much kindness as possible. Be upfront and explain your situation. Always be nice and ask them what they could do to remedy the situation. I’ve never experienced a time when they didn’t accommodate me. Sometimes I have been upgraded to better seats too. One event I attended they upgraded me to a box because all of the wheelchair-accessible seats were taken. That was a great experience because we had private bathrooms, a concession stand, and a bar with no lines.

Email the ticket office before the tickets go on sale

More recently I have taken a new approach in order to score accessible seats. The internet is a great resource to scope out email addresses for different venues. Look for the person who’s in charge of ticket sales. Send them an email about a week before tickets go on sale to the general public. 

Explain your situation as a person who needs wheelchair accessible seating. Then ask if ADA seats will be sold on the internet the day they are available to the general public. Also ask if I am unable to secure tickets for this event how would the venue go about accommodating me if I purchased “regular” seating?  Ask if they will be able to change those “regular” seats the day of the event for accessible seats?

This method has been serving me well the last few years. Most venues that I have dealt with have sold me accessible tickets before the general on sale date. Remember it’s all in how you ask. Be concise and friendly when sending these emails. The one thing I have learned is most people want to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for some extra consideration when dealing with purchasing tickets for your favorite sporting event or concert.

Purchase regular seats, them exchange them at the event

If you are unable to purchase accessible seats, don’t be afraid to purchase “regular” seats and try to switch them the day of the event after you arrive. Try and get there a little early so that they will have time to accommodate your needs.  Always remember to remain calm when you are dealing with someone who is not accommodating. Just smile and ask if you could speak to a manager. Remember kindness can go a long way. 

Let me know your hacks for scoring accessible seats.

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