Showing up at the local stadium to support your favorite team and enjoy the atmosphere of a sporting event is one of the cornerstones of American life. In the past it was difficult for citizens needing special accommodations to attend but these days most facilities are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (often referred to as just ADA).
Even with these advancements there are still strategies and tips that you’ll want to be aware of to get the most out of your experience. Here is our guide to having a great time at the ballgame as a disabled, special needs or senior citizen.
Purchase a Wheelchair Accessible Ticket & Seat
Stadiums are required to provide a reasonable number of wheelchair accessible seating and most of them make certain that your entire party can sit close to you while you’re there. In fact, these seats are often some of the best in the house with ample elbow room for you and your friends and family.
When purchasing your tickets online be sure to choose the “Accessible” filter or option. Look for the blue wheelchair logo when choosing your seat:
Stadiums should give you plenty of options for seating arrangements and accessible tickets are often the last to be sold and held for you during popular events. These seats often aren’t just for wheelchair bound citizens! Often disabled, hard of hearing, blind or those using walkers or crutches are eligible for accessible seating as well.
If you’re having trouble or aren’t sure you’re getting the right accommodations, order your tickets by phone.
Obtain an Accessible Map of the Arena
One of the most critical aspects to a safe and enjoyable experience at the ballpark is being able to move freely around the facility. Start by obtaining an accessible map of the arena in advance, if possible. Some entrances and routes through the stadium will not be accessible so you should be sure to plan your trip in advance so that you’re not stuck at the wrong, unaccessible end of a large building. The University of Washington has a map here, for example.
If you are unable to find a map online be sure to give the arena a call beforehand to understand the best route for you if walking long distances or climbing a large number of stairs isn’t an option for you. They’ll be able to tell you the fastest route to the elevators and how to stay on accessible ramps.
Accommodations for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
With technology these days, anything is possible. For deaf and hard of hearing fans newer stadiums offer captioning screens and even live American Sign Language interpreters for most events. You’ll need to check in with ticketing office to receive your device which will either be a small receiver that will transmit audio through headphones or your hearing aid– or for ASL you may even receive a digital pad device with video that you can watch while enjoying the game. Here’s what it might look like:
Service Animals are Often Allowed
While most parks prohibit pets from their facilities, service animals are almost always allowed. But be sure to ask before showing up with your service animal because you may need to sit in a particular section or purchase an additional seat for your companion.
Check for Senior Citizen Discounts & Other Perks
Sports stadiums often have discounts and other perks for senior citizens! Check the website of the stadium you’re attending or ask a service member if any of them apply to you. They’ll be happy to help.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help at the Park!
Don’t let pride get in the way of having a great time at the ballpark. Every stadium is different and their accommodations for seniors and other disabled persons can be confusing if not lacking. So be sure to ask for help whenever you need it and your local stadium representatives will gladly assist you.
If you’re feeling unaccommodated and you’ve gone to great lengths to make the situation better with an arena you can also file an ADA complaint. But we believe that 99% of the time you’ll have a wonderful time at the ballpark with your friends, family and favorite team along with everyone else.