The crack of the bat. The roar of the engines. The smack of the snare drum.
Those are just some of the familiar sounds associated with summer fun. Now that temperatures are rising across the country and spring is on its way out, the time has come to get outside and enjoy baseball games, auto races, and concerts, among many other exciting outdoor activities.
You may be apprehensive about purchasing tickets to such an event if you require the use of a mobility scooter or power wheelchair. And you may be wondering if your needs can be accommodated. But there’s good news – you don’t have to worry at all!
If you have an impairment that requires mobility assistance, you can still enjoy all the summer has to offer when out at an event. It’s important to understand the general accommodations available at venues that host these events, and once you do, you’ll realize that navigating your way through the stadium is as routine as a 6-4-3 double play.
Baseball: America’s pastime
Long rooted in American culture, baseball has maintained popularity through centuries of tradition. The fact is, no matter where you live in the continental United States, you’re just a short drive away from professional baseball of some kind.
While there are only 30 Major League clubs, each organization is stocked with a deep minor league system, and these teams are spread out across the country. And while the minors serve as important pipelines to develop talent for Major League clubs, they’re also a prime source of family entertainment on a warm summer night.
Each baseball stadium, Major and minor, has its own characteristics and accommodations for accessibility, but all of them have general guidelines to ensure a fun night out with family and friends.
As an example, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the home of the Phillies, was built in 2004. The Phillies’ access guide for guests with disabilities states that the stadium was “designed to be universally accessible and comfortable for our guests with disabilities” with the help of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) consultant. Some general guidelines include:
- Parking: Designated handicapped parking areas
- Restrooms: 14 family restrooms scattered throughout the park, all accessible by power wheelchair or mobility scooter
- Elevators: Several specific elevators for guests with disabilities, in addition to ramps to access every of the stadium
- Seating: Wheelchair and companion seating is located throughout the park
- Water fountains: Twenty water stations throughout the park, each containing one standard and one wheelchair accessible fountain
There are many other accommodations offered by Citizens Bank Park to ensure you’ll have everything you need to enjoy the game. And remember, even though every stadium has its own unique characteristics, these accessibility guidelines are universal throughout the Majors, so no matter where you live, you’re not far away from enjoying America’s pastime!
NASCAR: Coming to a track near you
Between now and the beginning of November, the NASCAR Cup Series will be running events 22 of the next 23 weeks. That’s a packed schedule! The circuit will be touring the country as drivers compete to become NASCAR’s next Cup Champion. In addition, the Xfinity Series and Craftsman Truck Series will be on the road as well, giving racing fans plenty of options to attend events this summer (and in the fall).
Just like baseball stadiums, auto racing venues contain their own accessibility guidelines to ensure that fans who require the assistance of a power wheelchair or mobility scooter can enjoy the thrill of the sights and sounds as dozens of stock cars go whizzing by at speeds of up to 200 mph.
Pocono Raceway in northeastern Pennsylvania hosts a weekend each summer in which all the national NASCAR series make their way to town. In the span of three days, you could enjoy four events, along with all the practice and qualifying sessions for each of those races, and all the off-track festivities and entertainment on the infield and throughout the complex.
Known as the “Tricky Triangle”, the raceway has protocols in place to make sure all fans can enjoy the events equally.
“We know our fans our passionate about the sport. We know they like to get outside and enjoy good times with their families,” says Ricky Durst, Senior Director, Marketing & Analytics for Pocono Raceway. “Anything we can do to make that easier, to make that more enjoyable, we’re going to try to accomplish.”
Durst says that includes a full bank of disability parking spaces located directly in front of the main entrance, known as Gate 11 at the Raceway. Golf carts with the capacity to transport electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters are provided to shuttle fans around the facility.
There are three seating areas available for those with disabilities as well. Durst says they conform to ADA regulations with ramp access. Family members of those with disabilities are also permitted to sit in these areas.
Pocono Raceway is a 2.5-mile track, which means the infield is a huge area that contains RV parking and recreational activities. That includes an inclusive, wheelchair-accessible playground that can be enjoyed by children of all ages.
For fans that may still be apprehensive about attending, Durst says to come and see for yourself.
“When you look at a grandstand full of people here at Pocono Raceway or another NASCAR track, it’s a cross-section of America,” Durst said. “They’re all here for the same reason, to enjoy the sport. Whatever we can do to get everyone in here and have a good time, that’s our goal.”
And Durst adds: “Everything is on one level, all on an asphalt surface. It’s conducive to being accessible. You’re not climbing steps. Not only is the race going to be accessible, but the concessions, the bathrooms, the entertainment will be equally accessible as well.”
Check online before you go
Durst says that all guidelines and protocols for accommodating fans with accessibility needs are located on Pocono Raceway’s website.
Although this blog only covers two examples, facilities across the country adhere to ADA regulations. If you’re interested in attending an event but are unsure of what accommodations will be in place once you arrive, check the venue’s website ahead of time, where all relevant information would be posted.
Rest assured, you’ll be able to relax and unwind this summer, no matter what sport you’ll be watching or what concert you’ll be attending. It’s getting warm outside now, but these summer months will be gone before you know it, so get out and enjoy it all while you can!