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Lawsuit Says Cubs' Wrigley Field Renovations Violate Americans with Disabilities Act

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 14, 2022

Matthew Stockman

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois has filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Cubs, arguing that the organization violated the Americans with Disabilities Act while making several renovations to historic Wrigley Field, per Sam Charles of WGNTV.com.

Sam Charles @samjcharles

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago today field a lawsuit against the Cubs, alleging that renovations made to Wrigley Field violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Story coming. <a href="https://t.co/miLcOc1As4">pic.twitter.com/miLcOc1As4</a>

The lawsuit alleges that the Cubs "removed the best wheelchair seating in the stadium, failed to incorporate wheelchair seating into new premium clubs and group seating areas ... and failed to remove architectural barriers to access in unaltered portions of Wrigley Field where it was readily achievable to do so."

The U.S. Attorney's Office is also seeking an injunction that would force the Cubs to comply with ADA requirements and "compensatory damages in an appropriate amount for injuries suffered as a result of defendants noncompliance with the ADA."

In their own statement, the Cubs said they were "disappointed in the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to file suit and hope the matter can be resolved amicably," adding that the renovations in question "greatly increased accessibility of the ballpark" and were done "in accordance with applicable law and historic preservation standards consistent with the ballpark's designation as a National and City of Chicago landmark."

The Cubs also claimed that the stadium has increased "accessible seating options by more than 50 percent on and across more levels and in more locations" and has "11 more elevators than it did prior to the start of the renovation, more accessible restroom facilities, assistive listening technology for fans with hearing impairments, enhanced audio speakers and sound systems throughout the ballpark, and upgraded ticketing and online systems for purchase of seating, including accessible seating."

In 2015, Marla Donato wrote for Bloomberg that navigating Wrigley Field in a wheelchair was difficult, as the elevators in her section were out of order, her husband and an usher "struggled together" to push her up a "long series of ramps to our assigned area" and her assigned wheelchair seat amounted to "sitting completely out in a main aisle without any protective barriers."

Donato noted that there are different standards applied to new stadiums built to comply with ADA requirements and stadiums like Wrigley Field, which is a national historic landmark and therefore is granted more leeway on design issues like the steepness of ramps around the ballpark.

Still, the federal government will make the case that Wrigley Field and the Cubs fell short of the standards expected under the ADA, even for historic landmarks.

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