UM to Make Upgrades

The University of Michigan agreed to improve wheelchair access at one of the nation's largest football stadiums as part of a deal approved Monday with a paralyzed veterans' group that had sued the school.

U.S. District Judge Sean Cox signed the consent decree outlining the changes, avoiding a possible trial.

Starting with this season, 96 new accessible seats - plus seats for companions - will be available along the east side of the stadium, which can seat more fans than any other such site. And by the start of the 2010 season, at least 329 accessible seats, plus seats for companions and including seats in the student section, will be available.
The agreement also includes five years of court oversight.
``Disabled fans will be able to watch games at Michigan Stadium with the same level of enjoyment as other fans, in the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act,'' said Richard Bernstein, attorney for the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America.
The school also will work with architects for the veterans' group to enhance the wheelchair accessibility of parking, access routes, restrooms, concessions and other amenities over the next three years.
``We have always sought to provide the best possible game-day experience for all of our loyal football fans,'' said Michigan athletic director Bill Martin. ``This agreement is an important step toward achieving that goal.''
The stadium previously had about 90 wheelchair-accessible seats, divided equally within each end zone. But Bernstein said seats now would be distributed throughout the stadium and more enhancements will be discussed in 2011.
``It is better real estate,'' said Bernstein, a 1996 Michigan graduate who is blind and took the case pro bono. ``They ring the entire stadium.''
The veterans' group sued the university last year, claiming the stadium design is inaccessible to those in wheelchairs. The U.S. Department of Justice joined the group in its lawsuit in November.
The stadium's current capacity is 107,501, and it is undergoing renovations that would increase the figure to more than 108,000.

 

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