Disabled Access at the Super Bowl

The decision to allow the disabled access to the Super Bowl found its way into Papas' courtroom in an effort to force the NFL to make the tickets available. Federal Magistrate Judge Leo Papas shifted the decision to another federal magistrate. A hearing on the issue will be held Jan. 22.

A 2001 settlement calls for 1,000 tickets to be set aside for the disabled at Qualcomm events where tickets are sold to the public. The city contends the Super Bowl is not part of the settlement, since Super Bowl tickets are unavailable to the general public.

Last week, Papas ordered disabled activist Beverly Walker to work the issue out with the City. The issue remains unsettled and Papas was unwilling to rule on it.

The activists' attorney, Amy Vandveld, says the NFL has done little to demonstrate a willingness to have disabled fans as a part of Super Bowl Sunday. "As a matter of fact, what they are willing to do is to remove seats for people with disabilities. (Seats) that the city spent $4.5 million or $5 million putting in place," Vandveld said. "We were at the stadium yesterday; we found that not only has the NFL not made tickets available for sale to people of disabilities, they have significantly reduced the availability of disabled seating."

"They're taking out wheelchair locations, making them available for non-disabled people; making them into private luxury boxes. It's clear that the NFL had, and has, no intent on complying with the (Americans with Disabilities Act)."

Now the issue remains unsolved and will be dealt with Super Bowl week. Every year it seems something clouds the Super Bowl and its identity. A dark cloud already covers San Diego as the Chargers contemplate initiating the "trigger period" that would allow them to search for a new home. Not exactly the kind of exposure that the city of San Diego was hoping for.

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