Who said the century-old Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was limited to baseball? The two historic teams are at it again, not for the American League Championship, but this time they’re competing for the title of most accessible stadium in the Northeast.
In the late 1990s, both Fenway Park and the old Yankee Stadium failed to fully meet the needs of spectators with disabilities hoping to enjoy a ball game and a box of Cracker Jacks. As is often the case, the two teams took two different approaches to address a common problem: the Red Sox renovated and the Yankees constructed a new stadium.
The new Yankee Stadium features 1,500 wheelchair-accessible seats and 530 companion seats as well as aisle transfer seats featuring removable armrests. Some wheelchair-accessible seating areas provide electrical outlets. The director of Disabled Services at Yankee Stadium was unavailable for comment; however, according to the Yankees’ Guide for Guests with Disabilities, “Wheelchair accessible and aisle transfer seats are available at various price points and locations and include Yankees Premium seat locations.” Accessible seating accommodates not only guests who use wheelchairs, but also those who with sight or hearing impairments.
Like many newer stadiums, Yankee Stadium provides two open-captioning video boards as well as closed captioning on other screens throughout the stadium. Concession stands provide Braille and large print menus, and as part of a pilot program, nearly 50 locations feature induction loops, which are cables that create a magnetic field that can be picked up by hearing aids so a sound source can be transmitted clearly.
All restrooms at the stadium are wheelchair accessible and located on all levels. Additionally, the stadium features 12 family-assist restrooms throughout the stadium.
Yankee Stadium is the only Major League Baseball stadium that has implemented wheelchair lifts in both dugouts. This enables all aspects of stadium tours to be fully accessible to visitors with mobility impairments. In addition, inclined platform wheelchair lifts provide wheelchair access to the playing field and 16 public elevators throughout the stadium provide access to every area and level of the stadium.
This model of accessibility evolved out of the multifarious collaborations between Yankee Stadium and other organizations, including the Department of Justice, United Spinal Association, Americans with Disabilities Act officials, and the architects from Populous (formerly HOK Sport). Furthermore, through consultants at Accessibility Services, the Yankees organized outreach meetings with the community and various organizations to attain input on requests and concerns pertaining to the stadium’s accessibility.
The old Yankees Stadium may hold a special place in the hearts of Yankees fans, but in terms of accessibility, it doesn’t hold a candle to the new Yankee Stadium, whose features provide the opportunity for a first-rate experience for spectators with disabilities.
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Jeremy Diamond is an International Relations & Political Science double-major at The George Washington University.