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Wrigley Field Upgrades Leaving Wheelchair Users Behind, Feds Allege In New Cubs Lawsuit

The team violated the Americans with Disabilities Act with its major renovations, federal prosecutors said. A Cubs spokesman said the renovation "greatly increased accessibility of the ballpark."

Fans fill their seats during the Chicago Cubs' home opener as they host the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on April 7, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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WRIGLEYVILLE — The federal government is suing the Chicago Cubs for allegedly failing to provide adequate seating options and other accommodations for wheelchair users after extensive renovations to Wrigley Field.

The baseball team violated the Americans with Disabilities Act with its recently completed renovation of Wrigley Field, known as the 1060 Project, according to a lawsuit from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. The agency filed the suit Thursday.

But the Cubs think Wrigley Field is “more accessible than ever,” a spokesman said.

With the renovations, the Cubs have not provided people who use wheelchairs with the same sightlines as standing patrons at Wrigley Field, according to the lawsuit. Seating for people who use wheelchairs is also largely clustered in the last row of general admission throughout the ballpark, according to the lawsuit.

Those changes violate the ADA’s Standards for Accessible Design, according to the prosecutors’ office.

The Cubs also haven’t included seating for wheelchair users in premium club and group seating areas, according to the lawsuit.

“This all occurred even though the Cubs rebuilt much of Wrigley Field as part of the 1060 Project and thus had ample opportunity and a significant ADA obligation to incorporate wheelchair seating and other accessible elements into and throughout the new and improved facility,” according to the lawsuit.

Wheelchair users are discriminated against with subpar seating in each of Wrigley Field’s general admission sections: the bleachers, the lower grandstand and the upper deck, according to the lawsuit.

In the bleachers, wheelchair users have been relegated to the last row of the section, where views can be obstructed by standing fans, according to the lawsuit.

“Wrigley Field previously had 15 general admission wheelchair seats with excellent, unobstructed views over standing spectators on the main bleacher concourse in right field, but the Cubs eliminated those wheelchair seats during the 1060 Project by converting that space into the Budweiser Patio, a group seating area,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit also lists other “accessibility issues” at the ballpark, including counters at ticket counters and concession stands that are too high for wheelchair users.

Julian Green, Cubs vice president of Communications and Community Affairs, said in an emailed statement the team will defend its position that Wrigley Field meets all accessibility requirements for fans. The Cubs hope the situation will be “resolved amicably,” he said.

“The renovation of Wrigley Field greatly increased accessibility of the ballpark and was completed in accordance with applicable law and historic preservation standards consistent with the ballpark’s designation as a National and City of Chicago landmark,” Green said in a statement.

“Since the Department of Justice’s initiation of its review in November 2019, we have fully cooperated with every inquiry and made several offers to voluntarily further enhance accessible features of the ballpark, including seating, restrooms, concessions and other key accessibility elements, in response to the Department’s inquiry.”

Wrigley Field now has 11 more elevators than it did before the renovation and more accessible restrooms, Green said.

“The Friendly Confines today is more welcoming than ever to fans with accessibility needs,” Green said.

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