Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Accessibility Review: Land Shark Stadium
Parking at Land Shark Stadium was easy. It does take a little driving around it to the one open gate for parking because they do not open it all up for a baseball game, but it is not hard to spot the open gate. The handicap parking is located pretty close, although you do still have to cross the main in and out traffic lane for the parking lot to get to and from the spots and the stadium. It really is a poor design to have the traffic lanes go around the stadium in front of the parking spots. It makes it dangerous for anyone to cross the car traffic to get to their car as well as making it hard for people in wheelchairs to be able to just fit between the cars often stopped too close together.
Actually entering the stadium was easy. The main reason was there were absolutely no crowds. This meant it was easy to go on the elevator without having people that do not need it trying to hog the elevator. They also have a person outside the elevator after the game making sure priority goes to those that really need it. This is great because really few besides those with wheelchairs, strollers, or walkers should need the elevator because right there is a short escalator out of the park. All the seating is on the lower level except for suites and football games. Also, to get just to the level of all the seating you do need the elevator/escalator and it is not avoidable like it is for many parks if you sit on the lower level.
We sat in section 125. The seats were pretty good. The view was great from centerfield. The bar in front was not a problem at all. The seats are also raised up in front and pushed back from the row in front, so that the view is not ever blocked by people standing in the row in front of the wheelchair section. This is due to their being a ramp up to the section right in front of the section. This ramp makes the section sort of its own and keeps it from having the general section traffic ending up crowding it, which is an issue at many ballparks. Mik also liked that each spot had a cup holder.
The only issue I had with the wheelchair section was that they only sell you one companion seat next to the wheelchair spot. The other ticket is for what they say is the row behind the wheelchair row, but technically that does not exist. There was not usher to explain, but I am pretty sure this supposed row 29 ends up being folding chairs behind the wheelchair row. Boy would that be a messy traffic jam trying to get in and out of the section during the game if there were even just a few families in the section that had people in the supposed extra companion row behind us. As it was, though, it was no issue because we were the only ones in the section. We just took a set of two permanent seats with a wheelchair space next to it in the wheelchair row.
Overall Land Shark Stadium is a rather blah one for baseball, but it is pretty good accessibility wise. Even Mik felt strong enough about the accessibility to tell me after the game to make sure I said in the accessibility review that it is not a good baseball experience stadium, but it is a great accessibility experience. Of course, the really low attendance and lack of crowds helps with the accessibility working out good, but even with crowds the elevator situation should still be under control. I only think the companion row could cause a real issue for crowded games. Hopefully, the new Marlins Ballpark that is to open in 2012 can maintain and even improve the accessibility experience. It would be very sad if the ballpark improved the baseball experience and took a step backwards in accessibility.