By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (The famed Wrigley Field marquee.) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A man who uses a wheelchair said the Cubs violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by making changes to Wrigley Field that prevent him from watching baseball games from the right field bleachers and seeing the whole game when he sits behind home plate.
In a complaint filed Dec. 15 in federal court in Chicago, David F. Cerda sued the Chicago Cubs saying until 201, he was able to use a wheelchair seating area in the right field bleachers and a lower box wheelchair area behind home plate.
Cerda, who in his complaint said he has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, said, after the Cubs demolished and reconstructed both the right and left field bleachers, the place where he had sat in right field is now a specially ticketed area with a bar. There also is a bar area in the new left field bleachers, he said, although that area never had wheelchair seating.
While there still are wheelchair areas in the lower box portion of the stadium bowl, Cerda said when he attended a game in 2017, he noted the wheelchair seats were several rows further from the field of play than they had been in 2014, and from the new seats he “was unable to see the full field of play when patrons in front of him were standing.”
Cerda also noted ongoing renovations will result in a luxury club created under the lower box seating area behind home plate, and the Cubs have not yet announced if wheelchair seating will be available when renovations are complete. Advertised as the American Airlines 1914 Club — a nod to the year Wrigley Field was built — the club will give patrons access to lower box seats behind home plate, including in the front row.
He contrasted Wrigley with Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, home of the Reds, which also has a luxury club underneath the lower box seats, yet provides access to wheelchair seating in the front row behind home plate. At that stadium, Cerda said he’s been able to sit next to the visiting team’s dugout.
According to the complaint, the Cubs are required to comply with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design for all Wrigley alterations started after March 15, 2012. Specifically, Cerda alleged: “The seating plan at Wrigley Field is required to provide wheelchair spectators with choices of seating locations and view angles that are substantially equivalent to, or better than, the choices of seating locations and viewing angles available to other spectators. … dispersed horizontally around the field of play,” as well as vertically.
He asked the court to order the Cubs to put ADA compliant wheelchair seating in both left and right field bleachers, and to mandate the same in lower box areas provided it is “equal to or better than the vertical wheelchair seating that existed prior to the alterations which were made after 2014.” He also wants the court to order front row wheelchair seating behind home plate and to compel the team to pay the legal fees associated with the complaint.
David F. Cerda is represented in the matter by David A. Cerda, of Cerda Law Office, Chicago.