Sports fans who have a disability are being urged to attend a Monday meeting with the newly appointed architects for the new Vikings stadium to remind officials that they want the new facility to be fully accessible to everyone.
The meeting, billed as a chance to meet representatives from HKS Sports & Entertainment Group, is at 5:30 p.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
“Public comment and questions are encouraged,” the meeting notice says.
Disability advocates plan to do just that.
The Minnesota State Council on Disability is urging people to attend the meeting, saying in an email:
“Your presence [at the Vikings meeting] is needed to make the Vikings new facility the most accessible pro football stadium in the country.”
It’s not that they fear the new stadium won’t be accessible; they just want to be sure, said Margot Imdieke Cross, the accessibility specialist at MSCOD.
“We’re so very happy with the Twins stadium, and we want to repeat that success,” Cross said. “We had a commitment very early on from the Twins organization to make the stadium as accessible as possible, so now the standard has been set.”
Cross said inquiries to the governor and other stadium officials about accessibility plans have gone unanswered, and that’s a concern, so she issued the call to attend Monday’s meeting.
Jenn Hathaway, director of communications for the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, tells me: “We have just begun the design process, so we are just developing these concepts and plans.”
Cross, who’s also worked on accessibility planning for the light rail line and other major projects, says a volunteer disability advisory committee helped with plans for Target Field.
“These were people with disabilities who are also sports enthusiasts, so this wasn’t done in a vacuum,” Cross said. “We also brought in consultants and national experts to help translate the recommendations into a final design.”
The result, she said, is a ballpark that’s praised by people with all kinds of disabilities.
“I hear from people of every age and just about every disability who’ve attended games, and the response is overwhelmingly positive,” she said.
She lists the Target Field accessible amenities: easy-to-navigate ramps, adequate seating that’s flexible and interchangeable for those in wheelchairs, bathrooms that are accessible, drop-off spots close to the stadium, an extra elevator in the transit hub, even sound enhancements at a ticket booth for the hard of hearing.
Cross said she hopes to repeat the Twin experience with the Vikings stadium, because it proved so successful.
“We’re not asking for sympathy or pity. This is being paid for largely by the public, and we’re tax-paying Minnesotans,” she said.