BRONX, NYâ€“â€“United Spinal Association, a national disability rights organization, is proud to announce that its Accessibility Services group has been selected by the New York Yankees to ensure that the new Yankee Stadium, scheduled for completion by Opening Day 2009, will be fully accessible to all fans with disabilities.
The Yankees announced plans for the new stadium last June and the compliance contract was awarded to United Spinal by project manager Tischman Construction. Accessibility Services will be working with the architectural firm of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) Sport+Venue+Event to develop what Director Dominic Marinelli predicts will be â€œthe most accessible ballpark in the country.â€
In an effort to gather feedback on preliminary elements of the design, United Spinal hosted the first of what will be a series of informational meetings for fans with disabilities at Yankee Stadium on September 28th. The meeting drew an overflow crowd of well-informed participants to the Yankeesâ€™ â€œGreat Moments Roomâ€ and representatives from HOK provided a general overview of the new facility, after which Marinelli and HOK engineer Ed Roether led discussion on general concerns of those in attendance.
United Spinalâ€™s Associate Executive Director Terry Moakley opened the meeting by saying, â€œWe know youâ€™re Yankee fans and we know youâ€™re going to be vocal, and thatâ€™s exactly what we want today. We want to get the accessibility features perfect for the new Yankee Stadium and we canâ€™t do that without your help.â€
As an example, Marinelli noted that the Americans With Disabilities Act Manager for the Yankees, Carol Laurenzano, suggested electrical outlets be installed in all wheelchair viewing areas so that people needing to plug in medical equipment during the game will be able to do so. He said the idea is not part of any building code or ADA requirement, and Laurenzano learned of this need simply from her experience working with fans with disabilities. Marinelli said outlets are a good common-sense suggestion and will be implemented.
Among other suggestions were:
â€¢ Provide adequate depth at wheelchair seating locations to prevent fans in wheelchairs from being bumped or pushed by able-bodied people when passing such locations.
â€¢ Clearly marked points of departure for fans needing transportation pickups such as â€œAccess-a-Rideâ€ vehicles.
â€¢ Avoid unnecessarily long distances between accessible entrances and parking lots or mass transit arrival areas.
â€¢ Ensure adequate vertical clearance in parking garages.
â€¢ Ensure that access aisles between cars in handicapped parking areas are wide enough so that people in wheelchairs have enough room to navigate.