Saturday, June 20, 2009

Accessibility Review: Progressive Field

Parking at Progressive Field was a pain since we arrived more than 3 hours before game time. There was a sign to park next to the stadium, but the road to it was blocked off and then we found another garage nearby before realizing that there was one entrance open to the garage across from the one we ended up in. The one we ended up in was across from the basketball arena and was horrible accessibility wise. The attendant gave us vague directions about there being spaces on the first floor you come to and something about also a floor down. We got to the first floor and sure enough there were spaces, but they were all blocked off with barriers related to construction going on in the garage.

We just grabbed a non-handicap spot and dealt with it because the elevator was supposedly out according to a sign out front and we did not really want to deal with one that he said was just reopened when he obviously did not know much considering the spots he could almost see from where he was at were closed off. Anyways it worked out fine in the end, but I imagine it would have been better to have just parked right next to the park in the official parking lot. In our experience that has almost always been worth the extra money.

We got to the park right after they opened the one gate (Gate C, I think) at 4:30pm for access to a small area of the park that included Heritage Park. Near Heritage Park is a small food court area with a ramp up to it. The first obvious way up is steps, but they very clearly have signs that lead to the ramp way up. I was annoyed at the Reds for having a long way around the outfield, but this way was not annoying because it was a part you could avoid if you did not want food and even if you wanted to go up there it was very clearly accommodating unlike getting the vague directions from an usher to go way over there to a ramp. Anyways this is a nice place to get food before the rest of the park opens an hour before the game. There are a bunch of tables and they all can be wheeled up to if you just move aside a chair.

After Mik got fed we decided to check out Heritage Park. This is basically the Indians Hall of Fame. It starts a few steps down from the main concourse and then has another level below that. They have two lifts to get between the levels and the concourse. The lifts have to be operated by an usher, but we easily located a helpful usher that went and got the key to help us get between the levels. Mik and Dad did end up stuck in the second one due to it being misaligned and locking the bottom door as it descended, which causes the lift to power off. More on that incident in this post. It might have been an inconvenience, but they rather quickly fixed the problem and we give them props for being the most helpful ballpark staff we have encountered.

Our seats were located in the upper deck on the first base line in section 432. The view from the seats was good, but the bar got in the way of the line of sight due to the permanent seats that Dad and I sat in being so far back from the pole. At least Mik could avoid it by rolling up to the bar. The seating areas was still annoying for the wheelchair, though because they technically do not have any spaces for wheelchairs. The seat at the end of the row comes off this pole to make room for the wheelchair. It is an interesting feature, but the pole left on the ground gets in the way. At first we had Mik on the side of the pole. It felt like he was so far away and not really at the game with us. Sure that is a plus when Mik is being a pain in the butt, but he was actually in a good mood at the Indians game due to it ending up being his favorite ballpark because of the great food and friendly staff. I ended up being able to lift the chair a little to get the left wheel between my seat and the pole and then it seemed like normal. However, then getting him out of that spot took a little time and effort compared to just rolling in and out of the spot.

Overall Progressive Field is a good new ballpark that really did take accessibility into consideration throughout. The lifts in Heritage Park are great even though the one malfunctioned. The seating area is decent, but the added aspect of removable seats is annoying for those in wheelchairs. At least with Mik’s it could be remedied, but those in electric chairs would have to just deal with the distance from the rest of their group.

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