Monday, July 27, 2009

Accessibility Review: Minute Maid Park

Parking ended up being easy at Minute Maid Park as we found a parking lot across the street under the freeway that is an official lot. It was the first lot around the park that we noticed handicap spots in. It is labeled as a reserved lot, but that does not mean you need a special pass for the handicap spots, although you of course do need a handicap placard or plate. I also noticed some of the street parking around the park was handicap spots. However, several of the lots right across from the park other than the one we ended up in did not seem to have any handicap spots or if they did they were taken more than 3 hours before the game.

Getting into the park is not that hard, but it was helpful that a fellow fan told us early on where to line up. The regular lines end up going between bars, although not actual turnstiles when they enter the park. These bars are, however, not placed far enough apart for a wheelchair to go through. The doors to the left, however, which was the Media Entrance at the gate we were at, did not have any of the bars and when they opened the park it is even a handicap button operated automatic door. It was great that we were informed to stand over near it, as by the time the park opened the line was pretty long and it would have been annoying to end up going across it to get into the park.

At the Houston Astros game we originally had tickets in one of the 300s sections, but we ended up sitting in 110 as one of our surprise upgrades of the trip. The accessible seats on the 100 level are located at the top of the sections. Overall they are good seats, although part of left field was blocked from view and we could only see the train start its trip on the track to celebrate home runs. Not having to deal with elevators to get to them is a nice thing, though.

One issue with the section we sat in was that there was a concession stand right behind it. This did keep general public traffic out of the handicap seating area trying to stand around and watch the game and getting in the way. However, at the same time it almost made the section inaccessible for the wheelchair to get in and out of.

Overall the accessible experience at Minute Maid Park was acceptable. The particular section we sat in was kind of odd with the concession stand in front of it, but it is better than ending up people standing and crowding the section like we have experienced at some of the places the seats are right out on the concourse. Mik approves of the seating section because they do have cup holders.

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