Lawsuit targets UW basketball arena

Conrad Reynoldson
Conrad Reynoldson

The University of Washington basketball arena contains both federal and state accessibility violations, ranging from its ticketing practices to its seating arrangements to its parking and ramp access, a new lawsuit asserts, filed in federal court in late December [PDF].

“I am a longtime fan of all things Husky athletics as my dad was a ‘Double Dawg’ [a person who receives an undergraduate and post-graduate degree from University of Washington] and I graduated from law school at the University of Washington,” said Conrad Reynoldson, plaintiff and co-counsel in the lawsuit. “For many years I have particularly enjoyed attending Men’s Basketball and have been to numerous games. I always knew that something was not quite right with accessibility at Hec Ed Pavilion but until I completed law school at the University of Washington I did not fully know my rights.

“However when I attended games last season I started to realize just how much work needed to be done to make the experience equally as accessible and enjoyable for individuals with mobility impairments as everyone else.”

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, sports stadiums must offer tickets for people requiring accessible seating “in the same manner and under the same conditions” as their peers.

At Hec Edmundson Pavilion, people with mobility disabilities can only request accessible seating by calling the box office during limited hours. Requests cannot be made through the venue’s website or Ticketmaster.

As a student, Reynoldson, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, was unable to access in the student section. Now, as a season ticket holder, he is limited to the $55 seats, though tickets are often generally available for as low as $10.

To enter the stadium, people using accessible parking must travel about 250 yards from their vehicles, despite the ADA’s requirements that the spaces be available as to provide the “shortest accessible route” to the entrance, the lawsuit states. Many of the parking spaces contain out-of-compliance signage and curb cuts.

Both inside and outside the arena, the ramps allegedly contain dangerously steep slopes and violate federal regulations as to the handrails and landing space.

Moreover, many of the designated accessible seats at the arena, which also hosts the UW women’s basketball and volleyball teams, are obstructed by tripod cameras and video cameras, as well as a drum set for the band.

Taking these obstructions into account, the lawsuit attests that the venue contains just 48 seats that are either accessible to people with mobility disabilities, or set aside for their companions. Under the ratio mandated by the ADA, the venue, which holds more than 10,000 seats, must contain a minimum of 122 seats of this type.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleges violations under the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination. David Carlson, an attorney with Disability Rights Washington, is also a co-counsel in the case.

A video about the lawsuit, from KOMO 4 News, can be seen here.

This video may begin with a commercial that was not chosen by or for the benefit of Disability Rights Washington.

Disability Rights Washington, publisher of Rooted in Rights, is the protection and advocacy agency for Washington, and is a member of the National Disability Rights Network.

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