What’s Wrong Wednesday: Accessible seating barriers at Fargo-Moorhead concerts
By Tawnya Taylor
The F-M area is finally starting to come out of its winter deep freeze and is starting to announce all the summer line up’s that will be happening at the different venues. Personally, I’m pretty excited about the announcements of some of the concerts, like Pat Benatar and Andy Grammer with the American Authors. I’m even signed up with the Jade Presents so that I can get the codes to get the passwords to buy tickets on presale when the time comes. Since I have sadly, forgotten and missed out on some concerts I’ve wanted to go to before. Though here is the hitch, it’s something I’ve lived with my entire life but never seems to get any better, getting accessible seats to see these concerts.
With these two concerts as soon as I heard about them I wanted to go so I would finally be able to put the presale ticket option to use. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. The pre-sale days the only option to buy is online except when I went I couldn’t find the accessible seats on their seating chart and was getting annoyed because I know they have them because I’ve been at the venue before. I ended up having to call and let them know that I need two accessible seats. Then I have to get specific and tell them I want the front seats because in the Bluestem Amphitheater, the accessible seats are at the back and front of the venue. As anyone knows who is in a wheelchair and those who go to concerts, people stand the entire time and if you are sitting in the back the only thing you will be seeing is the butt of the person in front of you. Sorry I didn’t spend $75 to see that all night.
The problem I ran into both times is that they were unwilling to sell me the tickets for the accessible seats on pre-sale. What I was told is that they don’t want those who are able-bodied to buy the tickets. Great I am all for that because I agree those who don’t use a wheelchair or adaptive equipment should not be in those seats. I, however, need those seats because I do have a wheelchair and/or have my crutches with me. So why couldn’t I buy them? All their other tickets were on sale. I even had the pre-sale code that hundreds of other people got in their email. I wasn’t asking for special treatment.
Jade Presents was discriminating. You cannot have all your other seats available to the open public for purchase and decide that the accessible seats can’t be sold until a later time. Even their reasoning for not selling me the tickets because they didn’t want able bodied people buying them is flawed. What happens the next day when pre-sales is over? Do they have a system that prevents able-bodied people from buying those tickets? No, they don’t. I even informed them how this was an illegal practice. That they could not deny me tickets to the concerts at the presale time because I need accessible tickets. I even asked the person on the phone if it was a corporate policy or a company policy, but imagine that, I never got an answer.
It took me some standing up to the person on the phone but guess what, I have my tickets to both concerts. Though it does make me wonder, how many people would have just been like “oh ok, I’ll call back tomorrow.” Is it because they don’t know their rights? Or is it because they don’t have the self- confidence to stand up for themselves. Either way Jade Presents has not heard the last from me if this continues to be their practice.
ADA Requirements (http://www.ada.gov/ticketing_2010.htm)
Venues are required to sell tickets for accessible seats in the same manner and under the same conditions as all other ticket sales.
Tickets for accessible seats must be sold:
- during the same hours;
- through the same methods of purchase (by telephone, on site, through a website, or through third-party vendors); and
- during the same stages of sales (pre-sales, promotions, general sales, wait lists, or lotteries) as non-accessible seats.
When a venue provides tickets to a third-party ticket vendor, including Internet-based vendors, the venue must include comparable tickets for accessible seats. Once third-party ticket vendors acquire tickets for accessible seats, they are obligated to sell them in accordance with the Department’s ADA requirements. If the venue fails to provide any tickets for accessible seats, the third-party vendor is encouraged, but not required, to contact the venue to obtain tickets for accessible seats. Similarly, if the venue provides unsold tickets to a “discount” or “half price” ticket outlet, it must also provide tickets for accessible seats, if such seats are available.
Disclosure: Tawnya Taylor is also the Peer Mentor Specialist with Freedom Resource Center. Freedom Resource Center is a disability rights and resource center serving 10 counties in Southeastern ND and North Central Minnesota.