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Feds Reviewing Wrigley Field Renovations for ADA Compliance

Wrigley Field 2019

The five-year renovation of Wrigley Field has prompted a lawsuit saying the ballpark is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, leading to an investigation opened by local federal prosecutors.

The lawsuit says that the seating options offered to the disabled less numerous and of lower quality than existing before the 1060 Project was initiated, which upgraded virtually every portion of the ballpark. The team, however, says that options for the disabled were improved by the renovations. From the Chicago Tribune:

“The Cubs are completing a five-year renovation of Wrigley Field which we believe has significantly increased the accessibility of the ballpark,” an attorney representing the Cubs said in a letter to the judge overseeing the case. The letter said compliance with the ADA “is of critical importance to the Cubs, as is ensuring the accessibility to all fans to Wrigley Field, a historic and aging ballpark with a limited physical footprint.”

In the wake of the Justice Department review, the Cubs told the judge they are putting on hold plans to install additional accessible seating before opening day in March.

“Before making this substantial capital investment … the team believes it is prudent to place the project on hold and receive any feedback from the (U.S. attorney’s office) which might impact this seating,” the team said in its letter.

The decision to renovate Wrigley Field opened the door to ADA claims and compliance with a 2010 set of guidelines. If Wrigley Field is found not to be compliant with ADA guidelines, the Cubs will first have the chance to make changes to meet listed criteria–hence the decision by the Cubs to hold off on any further work on accessible seating before the 2020 season.

Photo shows some of the new seating areas for the disabled, unveiled before the 2019 season.

Similar lawsuits have been filed against the operators of T-Mobile Park and Oriole Park. In the case of T-Mobile Park, the Seattle Mariners successfully defended a lawsuit regarding ADA access, with one potential issue being contradictory and vague standards on what actually constitutes ADA access.

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