Friday, June 19, 2009

Accessibility Review: Great American Ballpark

Being one of the newer ballparks Great American Ballpark is accessible appearance wise, but not very conveniently so. It is much like the annoyance of Petco Park. If you do not know the place well, you can easily go annoying extra long ways to your seat. Parking was not easy or obvious either.

Our first annoyance came with parking, as we got there and Dad did not know where to park. I think there is actually parking right next to the park under the Arena, but we did not know about that and no signs made that obvious from the way we got to the ballpark. The first downtown area parking garage we drove into was this really odd one that double parked the cars and said they do not have handicap spots because they are a private parking lot, while at the same time they have a big sign that says public parking. Anyways the next one we came to did have spots, but actually they barely did, as we got the last one.

Getting inside the park turned out really easy, as we came through the gift shop after the Reds Hall of Fame. This entrance into the park from the back of the Team Shop has no turnstile to go around, so way easier than any other entrance. However, getting through the shop is not worth it if we had not been souvenir shopping because as usual the shop was hard to navigate the wheelchair through.

Our seats were in the Kroger bleachers in left center field and we entered the park on the third base line near the outfield. We saw a map and it made it seem like you can just walk around the back of the outfield and easily get to the elevator to go up to the Kroger bleachers. Well, we get to the outfield and encounter stairs. The usher we asked gives us awfully vague directions to go way to the edge of the outer concourse (i.e. back to the street almost) and then there was a ramp way to go around the back of the outfield. It was not too hard to locate and do, but was annoying to assume the whole concourse was the same level as the mapped seemed to show and arrive and have to go quite a ways out of the way just to get down and around. If they map had made that clear going the other way around the park would actually have been the faster route. Since we had spent so much time in the Hall of Fame we really were looking for the fastest route as we did not have as much time to spare to get to our seats as we usually do.

At least there was an accessible route that way and we did soon find the elevator. We did encounter the elevator being full when it got to the level we were on and no one in it was disabled. Two employees were on it and noticed Mik in the wheelchair and got off to take the stairs so we could get on. It was still very squished, but at least the employees did care about wheelchairs getting priority on the elevators, which was more than the usher on the elevator cared about, as that person was ready to close the doors and leave us waiting for the next load. At least it was only because the elevator had been loaded at a previous level and not because people not needing it were trying to load in front of us.

The seats in the Kroger bleachers were pretty good. The scoreboard is up behind you, but the way it is lit makes it still very easy to read if you just look over your shoulder. The view of the rest of the park is also pretty good. Only a little of the warning track is blocked. Also, the fireworks stacks are mostly blocked, but you can at least still see the tops were the fireworks go off from for homers and Reds wins and smoke comes out of with every Reds pitcher strikeout. The bar in front of the handicap seats is a little high, but the top bar does angle towards the seats, which makes it a little easier to see over without having to lean forward much.

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