Friday, July 10, 2009

Accessibility Review: Fenway Park

Fenway might not be expected to be that great of an accessible park and it would have a reasonable excuse since it is nearing 100 years old. However, like Wrigley it does not work with the excuse and instead does a great job of being as accessible as it can be for such an old park. It is kind of sad that old parks have adapted, while newer parks are the ones with the biggest issues in terms of accessibility. The only main complaint related to Fenway and accessibility is the parking.

We arrived several hours before the park even opened and easily found parking in a lot across the street, however they technically have no van accessible type handicap spots and it only worked because we took the only spot that is at the end of a row that is not against the wall. Normally when there is not a handicap spot we take two spaces to give room to get Mik out, but here they were going to charge us for two spaces, which would have been $70. If they did not have that one spot we would have just left and parked across the bridge at the place that cost $40 and had a few true handicap spots. There are also supposedly a few street parking spots by the park according to the Red Sox’s website, but very few and when we got there several hours early I only noticed one open.

The Team Shop is easily accessed before or during the game on Yawkey Way via a ramp up to the exit of the store. The novelty and hat part of the shop is the best accessible gift shop we have seen on the trip. The clothing part, which we did not go into looked like it might have been a little tighter, but it was nice that the novelty stuff and cap displays were just along the walls behind counters with wide open space in the middle of the shop. The display cases also made it easy for Mik to see the bats and such to choose rather than some places that have them in buckets that we have to help him get them out to see or up on shelves too high for him to see them at.

Getting into the park was not too hard, as you just go to the left side of the turnstiles, but it is kind of confusing because this is one of the few parks no one has directed us to the spot and it is not exactly obvious. Once in the park the elevators were straight ahead. There was not an attendant outside, but this is one of the few parks that the general public that did not need an elevator did not even try to use it. There were a few people that hopped into that did not really need it at the end of the game, but they did squish in and they yielded to those that needed it before getting on.

Our seats were in section 14. The view of the field was pretty good. There was a part of the outfield blocked by a pillar, but you have that problem anywhere in the upper half of the bottom sections. At least you cannot have the pillar right in front of you in any of the handicap seating. The wheelchair seating is set apart from the standing room very well and even with no ushers in the area the standing room people respected that they had to stay back in their area. There were no cup holders, but none of the rest of the park appeared to have any either, so Mik did not feel left out. The only thing that irritated Mik was that the seats are not raised up above the regular seats more than a normal row, so when people stand up it made it impossible for Mik to see the game since he could not stand up to see over them. This was particularly a problem with the game going into extra innings and the fans cheering way more than normal then.

Overall Fenway is a great accessible experience. It does have a few faults, but surprisingly few for being an old park and it is understandable that it has the one fault. The handicap parking fault is an annoyance that I feel should not have been an issue, as parking lots can easily be relined to have at least a few van accessible spots. The issue of the seats not being high enough above for the wheelchair person to still see when those in front stand up is just one of the quirks about it being an old park.

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