Both organizations worked with Birmingham (AL)-based KultureCity on the efforts.
The Indians first partnered with KultureCity in August 2018, gaining sensory inclusive certification for all programs and events hosted at Progressive Field. Fans with sensory sensitivities or challenges can utilize the brand new sensory room in the Kids Clubhouse at Progressive Field in addition to sensory bags equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads.
The Indians are just the third team in Major League Baseball to include a sensory room in their ballpark and one of eight MLB venues that are recognized as sensory inclusive.
At PNC Park, the sensory inclusive certification process requires the PNC Park game day staff to be trained by leading medical professionals on how to recognize those fans with sensory needs and equips them with the knowledge on how to handle a sensory overload situation.
The Pirates and KultureCity work to ensure sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads, are available to all guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment at PNC Park. Fans also have access to a quiet area, located in the Legacy Square area, for those who may need a quieter and more secure environment.
“We are proud to work with KultureCity to provide the most inclusive environment for all of our fans throughout the season,” said Pirates president Frank Coonelly. “We recognize that during each game sensory sensitivities may hinder some of our biggest fans from enjoying the game they love. With this in mind, we are working diligently to ensure there are tools at their disposal as well as areas within the ballpark they can take advantage of to make their experience a great one.”
Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over stimulation and noise, which is an enormous part of the environment in a venue such as PNC Park. With this new certification, the Pirates are now better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible when attending games.
“To know that you soon will be able to see families attend a baseball game, a true community binding experience, with their loved ones who have a sensory challenge and who were not able to previously attend, is truly a heartwarming moment,” said Dr. Julian Maha, Co-Founder, KultureCity. “Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that the Pirates are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing.”
The announcement comes prior to Sunday’s Autism Awareness Day at PNC Park as the Pirates work to raise awareness about the spectrum of Autism. For tickets and more information on the day, visit pirates.com/autism. In coordination with Autism Awareness Day, the Pirates in-game production will not include fireworks during home runs or postgame to accommodate those fans with sensory issues.
Prior to attending a Pirates game, families can download the free KultureCity App and find a list of sensory features available and access points. Also, on the app is the Social Story which will provide a preview of what to expect while enjoying an event at PNC Park.