The Minnesota Vikings NFL team in 2016 will unveil its new 65,400-seat stadium featuring superior wheelchair access and seating options, thanks to input from Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Architecture Department and Minnesota Chapter.
The new 1.75 million square foot facility will feature wheelchair-accessible seating at various ticket price points as well as in all of the more than 100 private suites, said Mark Goeller, associate director of architecture for Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Paralyzed Veterans’ involvement in the project began after Vikings team owners established an access advisory committee, which reached out to disability organizations representing blind and deaf individuals as well as those in wheelchairs. The advisory committee, which holds meetings every few months, takes feedback from the disability groups on the design, accessibility and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other codes, Goeller said.
“We’ve reviewed the plans to make sure they are ADA-compliant and encouraged them to go above and beyond the codes,” Goeller said.
The stadium will go above and beyond ADA compliance in some respects, including offering six-foot wide curb cuts instead of the four-foot wide curb cuts required by the ADA. Paralyzed Veterans also is encouraging the committee to consider adding more semi-ambulatory seating than the ADA requires, Goeller said.
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only service organization with a staff of licensed architects who do everything from review blueprints for Department of Veterans of Affairs facilities to advocate for changes in public spaces and buildings. In 2013, the Architecture Department provided more than $750,000 worth of consulting services – free.
Previously, Paralyzed Veterans’ architects worked with team owners of the Washington Nationals in ensuring accessible design of its Nationals Park, which opened in 2008 in downtown Washington, D.C. Paralyzed Veterans of America worked with stadium architects from initial schematics through completion, resulting in improved seating options for wheelchair users and easier access to the concourse and exits.
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Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com