Lawsuit alleges disability discrimination in Miller Park seating

Complaint seeks court ordered changes

Miller Park
Miller Park

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:10 pm

A new federal lawsuit claims wheelchair bound and other disabled fans face discrimination in line of sight, seating and internal access when attending Milwaukee Brewers games at Miller Park.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Wisconsin, says there is not a “malicious policy” to discriminate against disabled fans but specifically alleges the stadium is in violation of 2010 standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plaintiffs, Wisconsin residents Julie Withers and Dawn Green, point to millions of dollars spent on upgrades to the stadium as evidence that compliance is “readily achievable.”

“As demonstrated by the many alterations, the defendant have the financial ability to better accommodate disabled patrons,” the complaint says.

The lawsuit names the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club Inc., the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District and architects who have worked on the stadium design, including NBBJ LLC, Eppstein Uhen Architects Inc. and HKS Architects Inc. The Brewers did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BizTimes Milwaukee.

Rick Schlesinger, chief operating officer of the Brewers, told BizTimes Milwaukee media partner WISN on Tuesday that the stadium meets ADA requirements.

“I will tell you again, I’m very proud and I think Miller Park is a very accessible park. It adheres to the law and then some,” he said.

According to the complaint, the stadium does not have a line of sight for disabled fans that is comparable to the general public in 16 sections along with the Aurora Healthcare Bullpen, a field-level seating area beyond the right field wall.

The stadium’s box office also allegedly has a practice of not asking potential customers “whether they are mobility disabled … and as a result, wheelchair bound fans are effectively barred from purchasing these tickets on high attendance dates.”

The complaint also says that wheelchair bound fans cannot access the Aurora Healthcare Bullpen and there are no comparable seating options in the stadium.

Other lawsuit allegations include:

  • A lack of a wheelchair accessible complimentary shuttle from the parking lot when other fans do have access.
  • A lack of wheelchair accessible outlets and cellphone charging stations.
  • Difficult to navigate emergency exit ramps.
  • Difficult to operate elevators.
  • Not enough wheelchair seats in luxury and suite boxes.

The lawsuit seeks an order requiring the stadium to be brought into ADA compliance along with reasonable attorney’s fees.

“In addition to the inferiority of the viewing experience afforded by these non-comparable wheelchair locations, plaintiffs complain of physical discomfort engendered by these seats (including neck pain, eye strain and headaches), but also their collective feelings of isolation, embarrassment, and anger at being effectively denied access to the more preferential stadium seating where the overwhelming majority of ambulatory patrons routinely sit,” the complaint says.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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