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Crain’s Detroit Business
By Sherri Begin
4:24 pm, April 17, 2007
The Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America has filed a lawsuit against the University of Michigan, claiming it is not providing enough or adequate seating for disabled fans at Michigan Stadium.
In its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Ann Arbor, the Novi-based veterans group claims that UM’s planned $226 million renovation of Michigan Stadium triggers compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
The act requires that 1 percent of seats be accessible to those who are wheelchair-bound or have other impaired mobility, yet less than 100 of the more the 107,000 seats at the stadium are available to the disabled, Michigan Paralyzed Veterans claims in its suit.
ADA guidelines also stipulate the seats should be spread throughout the venue, but seating for the disabled is only located in the end zones at Michigan Stadium, the group said in its suit.
The suit, filed by attorney Richard Bernstein, who is blind and an adjunct professor at UM, also claims, among other things:
In the suit, the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans said UM entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in 1999 to resolve issues regarding lack of accessibility to the stadium for the disabled. The university has taken some steps to increase staff training and provide better signage at the stadium subsequent to the agreement, but it remains under federal investigation for failing to comply with its legal obligations to provide accessibility, the veterans’ group said.
On its Web site, UM said its stadium renovation includes plans to widen the aisles and seats, add handrails, increase the number of points of entry and exit and adding dedicated seating for fans with impaired mobility.
The renovations will include construction of two, multistory structures on the east and west sides of the stadium.
The west structure will include an elevated concourse, a new press box, new club seating and enclosed seating.
The east structure will include an elevated concourse, new concessions and restrooms and additional seating.
Approximately 83 suites and 3,200 club seats will be added, but some seating will be lost to widen aisles and increase access for disabled fan, UM said. When renovations are complete, the capacity of the stadium will be the same or greater than the current capacity of 107,501.
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