Dos and Don'ts of ADA Compliant Spectator Seating

An ADA compliant stadium is a necessity — but it’s no longer acceptable to do the bare minimum to meet all ADA criteria and standards. In a world that is becoming increasingly aware and conscientious, it’s more important than ever before to create an ADA compliant stadium that includes accessible bleachers and a variety of accessible seating spaces. Everyone — regardless of their ability or their needs — should have an opportunity to watch the game, be a part of the action and enjoy their day at the stadium.

Add Multiple Wheelchair-Accessible Spaces

In order to maintain your status as an ADA compliant stadium, you need to ensure that you have at least the minimum number of wheelchair-accessible spaces within your stadium. The number of spaces that are required depends on the availability of seating within your stadium. For instance:

  • If your stadium has between 4 and 25 seats, you need at least one wheelchair-accessible space.
  • For a stadium with 26 to 50 seats, you need 2 accessible spaces.
  • In a facility with 51 to 150 seats, you need 4 wheelchair-accessible seats.
  • A larger stadium with 151 to 300 seats requires 5 accessible seats.
  • For a stadium with 301 to 500 seats, you need to have 6 accessible spaces.
  • For the largest stadiums that seat between 501 to 5,000 or more people, you need to have at least 6 spaces plus one space for each additional 150 seats.

You will need to have at least the minimum number of wheelchair-accessible spaces in to maintain your status as an ADA compliant stadium, but it’s sometimes beneficial to have more than the minimum number of seats. This allows more individuals, families and groups to have choices when they are choosing their seats, and improves your reputation with the community at large. By making it as easy as possible to purchase great seats at your stadium, more people — regardless of their ability — are going to be interested in spending their free time enjoying events at your stadium.

Choose the Right Location for Wheelchair Spaces

There are many considerations to keep in mind as you are planning your stadium seating chart and incorporating accessible bleachers into your stadium plan. These tips will help you choose the right location for your wheelchair spaces:

  • Add accessible bleachers in different sections of the stadium. Bear in mind that some people who use a wheelchair prefer to be as independent as possible, while others may need assistance in getting to their seats. Be sure that there is accessible seating at various levels of the stadium, so that people can select a section that feels most comfortable for their personal needs.
  • Do not isolate wheelchair-accessible spaces. Most people who use wheelchairs are going to be coming to the stadium with their friends and family members, just like anybody else. They should be able to book tickets and secure seats that allow them to sit by their entire party. Companion seating is an important part of designing a wheelchair-friendly stadium, as this allows guests in wheelchairs to have the same experience as anyone else.
  • Incorporate different types of accessible seating into your stadium plan. For instance, you may have a section of your stadium that requires low-rise bleachers as well as another area that includes portable bleachers. By having different types of accessible bleachers in your plan, you allow your guests to choose the seating option that is best for them and for their entire travel party. People using wheelchairs deserve to have options, just like anyone else would want to have if they are attending an event at a stadium.

By placing your accessible bleachers in locations that are easy to get to and that allow guests in wheelchairs to experience the event with their friends or family members, you will ensure that everyone who comes to your stadium has an enjoyable day out.

Avoid Poor Sightlines

One of the most important considerations to make as you are planning for accessible seating is to keep in mind the guests’ sightlines. All too often, the people who are designing stadiums forget about the fact that those in wheelchairs have different sightlines than those who are not using a wheelchair, which results in the guests having a less-than-stellar experience when they sit in the accessible seating section.

It is only fair and right that all guests — regardless of their ability — have the opportunity to enjoy the game, concert or event in the same way as anyone else. By choosing places for accessible bleachers that offer a great view of the field, course, ice or stage, you give all of your guests the chance to fully experience the atmosphere at the stadium.

Discover the Benefits of Adding Accessible Bleachers

Investing in accessible bleachers is about more than making your stadium ADA compliant. It’s about creating a welcoming and inclusive facility that gives everyone the opportunity to go to the game, cheer on their favorite team, watch their child play a sport or hear their favorite local band.

These are just a few of the benefits that you will enjoy when you make this valuable investment:

  • First and foremost, purchasing the minimum number of accessible seats will allow you to become an ADA compliant stadium. This is necessary, and ensures that your stadium meets all standards and criteria.
  • In addition, adding more than the minimum amount of accessible bleachers will help you develop a positive reputation within the community. It is important to take into the account the needs and abilities of all of your guests, and by prioritizing accessible bleachers, you will prove that you genuinely value the experience that every guest has when they arrive at your stadium for an event.
  • When you establish a reputation as an inclusive stadium, you will find that you develop a following among local customers who are going to want to continue to go to a stadium where they feel welcome and included. In addition, word is going to spread about your facility, and you will find that many people will travel longer than normal in order to attend an event at a stadium that provides them with a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
  • Studies have shown that revenue increases when you invest in accessible seating. Most stadium operators find that their accessible seating sells out at major events. In fact, some stadiums have found that at any given event, more than 95 percent of all stadium seating is booked. This means that you can confidently invest in more accessible bleachers than necessary, knowing full well that there are patrons who are ready, willing and excited to purchase those seats and attend an event.
  • Additional accessible features, such as accessible picnic tables or accessible restrooms, can complement the accessible bleachers that you install in your stadium. By going the extra mile to create a fully-inclusive and accessible experience, you will continue to draw more patrons who want to have the same independence and freedom to enjoy their favorite events. The right features and accessories will not only make the experience possible, but it also will make it fun.

Is Your Stadium ADA Compliant?

It’s always a good time to review your current policies and evaluate whether or not you have an ADA compliant stadium. Whether you need to update your stadium in order to accommodate the most recent standards or criteria, or you are looking to enhance your stadium with accessible bleachers to improve the experience for everyone, we can help. At National Recreation Systems, we pride ourselves on offering a wide range of accessible bleachers, designed to meet the needs of our clients and your customers.

At NRS, we offer custom stadiums that feature wheelchair seating areas with companions seating that meets ADA accessibility requirements. Contact us today to get a quote.