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Iggles new field screws the disabled


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Nice touch.

Birds do end-run on disabled-parking regs

By DON RUSSELL

russeld@phillynews.com

Jennifer Midberry / Daily News

An advocate for disabled said Eagles "did a loophole approach" on the regulations.

THE EAGLES are exploiting a loophole in federal laws to restrict the number of handicap-parking spots at their new Lincoln Financial Field.

Though the stadium has 68,000 seats and boasts 22,000 parking spots, it provides just 28 official spots for disabled people, and those already have been reserved for the season.

Another 23 unmarked spots also are available, the team says, bringing the total to 51.

But even with those, the stadium doesn't have enough handicap parking to fully serve fans who use its 685 wheelchair-accessible seats.

"Twenty-eight spaces is just horrible for a facility that size," said Bruce McElrath, board chairman of the Philadelphia-based Disabilities Rights Advocacy Group.

The Eagles' response: Technically, the stadium is in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

That's because ADA regs are based on the size of the parking lot, not the stadium itself.

At the Linc, the loophole allows the Eagles to base their ADA compliance only on their relatively small north lot, between 11th and Darien streets, south of Pattison Avenue, and two smaller, adjacent VIP lots.

Those lots contain an estimated 2,300 total spaces. Under a strict interpretation of the ADA formula, the lots should provide 33 handicap spaces.

Yet, that interpretation ignores the vast sea of parking spaces that surround the stadium.

"They definitely did a loophole approach if they're only doing their calculation on the one lot, instead of all the spaces at the stadium," said Thomas Earl, executive director of Liberty Resources, an advocacy group for people with disabilities.

Based on the 22,000 spots that the Eagles say serve the stadium, the ADA formula would require the team to provide 230 spaces.

Eagles spokesman Ron Howard said, however, "We don't control those other lots. We have a limited number of spots."

According to Howard, all of handicap spots were purchased by season-ticket holders.

Howard added that two drop-off points at the stadium gate would provide another option for disabled patrons - at least for those who are passengers.

He noted that Veterans Stadium, where the Eagles played until last season, has just 31 handicap spaces.

But across the street, a rough count shows the Wachovia Center, which seats about 19,000, has 76 spaces.

At the Atlantic City Surf's Sandcastle - the ballpark has a seating capacity of 5,700 - there are 32 spaces.

In Minneapolis, the Metrodome offers an entire parking lot for disabled fans. And at Ericsson Stadium, the Carolina Panthers provide shuttles for fans with disabilities.

Though the Linc provides seating for 685 fans in wheelchairs, Howard downplayed the number of disabled fans at the stadium. He said the team has just 144 season-ticket holders who either use or accompany wheelchairs.

(Government statistics say about 1 percent of the population is physically disabled. The 2000 U.S. Census says there are more than 150,000 people with physical disabilities in Philadelphia.)

Meanwhile, dozens of fans who have contacted the Daily News in recent days complained they've been shut out because of their disabilities.

"It's a helluva mess," said Bernard Kushner, a disabled fan from West Philadelphia who has held season tickets for 32 years.

"I can't walk more than a block, but now I've got to walk all the way from Broad Street," Kushner said.

Jim from East Falls, who asked that his last name not be used, said: "They cut my foot off; I'm handicapped. But when I asked, they told me to sell my ticket and [personal seat license]. I was livid, I'm telling you."

And it's not just Eagles fans who are complaining.

On Monday night, Pat Manning was plagued by the lack of handicap parking at the Bruce Springsteen concert.

In an e-mail she wrote: "Walking and climbing stairs is very painful. I arrived at the Linc 1 ½ hours before showtime. I found that there are just a few handicapped spots next to the Linc, and they were all taken...

"I had to find a place to park and walk to the stadium. This was very painful for me."

In the past, disabled fans could have used SEPTA's Broad Street line to get to the Vet. But the Linc is about a half mile from the nearest subway exit.

The Eagles, in fact, have gone to great lengths to make their new stadium accessible to disabled fans. From Braille menus to free assistive listening devices, the stadium, says one team publication, "was designed to be completely accessible."

Kevin G. McGuire, the stadium's New York-based ADA consultant, bristled when asked about the stadium's compliance with parking regs.

"We are fully complying with the law," McGuire said last night. "Parking was a major issue for me."

McGuire said disabled parking in Philadelphia is plagued by numerous able-bodied drivers who have improperly obtained handicap placards.

"No matter what you do," McGuire said, "you could have 400 or 500 spaces, it'll never be enough."

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Gimme a break.

What's next:

"Eagles Screw the Homeless - not enough grates installed around the stadium. Homeless advocates up in arms."

Did they follow the law? Yes.

Should they have done more? Probably, but this is the same design group and city inspectors who missed the water fountains. In any event, it's easy to fix, should they choose to do so. It only takes a little blue paint and some signs. :rolleyes:

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I have to agree to a small degree with blazers here... While I fully understand that handicapped spaces are a necessity, I know full well that many people abuse the privledge. Several people that I know have gone to the doctor and because one lame excuse or another received a handicap parking permit. I rag on them to no end and refuse to ride with them if they are going to park in a handicap space...

Ask yourself, how many times have you seen a person park in a handicap space and nothing seems to be wrong.

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But does that reduce the need for the spaces, code?

People abuse systems all the time. Doesn't mean that the systems aren't needed. It means that the systems are flawed and need better regulation.

The need for the spaces are there usually. Case in point here is the people complaining about being locked out of the handicapped parking spaces.

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This qualifies for handicaped these days.

spurrier.gif;)

Seriously though. The Eagles do not own the Wachovia center spots, the Vet spots are owned by the Phillies for they are in charge of paying for the demolition. There was a HUGE article in the Inquirer over the loss of VIP parking. You use to be able to purchase them no-matter what your seats were. Now only luxury and club ticket holders can. Next season when the Vet is gone their will be plenty of room to park. Until then enough of the freaking whining!!!!

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Ask yourself, how many times have you seen a person park in a handicap space and nothing seems to be wrong.

I see one every day. She's my mother, and she has (what seems to be, at least in my un-medical opinion) some rather severe arthritis. She's able to walk about a block. If it's nice and level. And if she only does it once. And then doesn't do it again for a few days.

I used to work with another one. He was perfectly, physically, fit, but he had a condition (which I never asked about) that required him to have a drug continuously injected into his bloodstreem. He wore a small, battery-powered pump on his belt, which administered a drug into a catheter in his leg. The catheter made it very difficult for him to walk far.

Now, do I suspect, even think it's likely, that there are, out there, people who're simply getting a permit somehow, because they think they're more important than the little people who use parking spaces? It's a pretty safe bet.

But, at least I can't simply tell which ones by looking at them.

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code,

I have been deemed legally handicapped by New York State for over 10 years now but never got a handicapped parking permit. Heck, I walk 5 miles a day. How handicapped can I be? Don't get me wrong, I had two back surgeries and have some nerve damage in my leg so I am legally handicapped but I am sure there are many more people who can use those spots. Which is why it p***** me off to no end when I see a person walking fine out of their car after they have just parked in a handicap spot. And they don't have a permit. :cuss:

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