News / Edmonton

Accessibility at Rogers Place badly lacking, says concert goer

Man who uses wheelchair tells of 'incredibly trying' evening at Dolly Parton concert.

Metro file

An Edmonton man says Rogers Place needs to improve access to the new facility for people in wheelchairs.

Brian Jones, who uses a wheelchair, said getting in and out of the arena during the Dolly Parton concert last weekend made for “an incredibly trying evening.”

After picking up his tickets, Jones said arena staff informed him that the seats he'd purchased in the wheelchair-accessible area were full. 

Instead, he said he was given seats in another section.

Around 15 minutes later, Jones said, a security guard approached him and told him he would have to move again because he was blocking the aisle, which constituted a fire hazard.

“There was no, 'We're going to move you here' or no explanation,” he said. “It was done very poorly, and basically, rudely.”

Jones was eventually moved to another section in the floor-area of the arena.

Some of the elevators were also not working, which led to crowding in the hallways, Jones added.

Steinunn Parsons, assistant general manager of guest experience and events at Rogers Place, said accessibility is important to staff.

“We did a tour last week with the AAC (accessibility advisory committee), we've had a provincial consultant in the building, so it's something that we care about and we're sincerely sorry that guest experienced that,” she said.

People are encouraged to contact Rogers Place directly with any feedback, Parsons said, adding that staff is constantly being briefed to improve guest experience.

There are currently 73 wheelchair accessible seats and another 73 for companions in the building.

It's “unfortunate” that Jones had a negative experience and he raises important issues that need to be looked at, said Zachary Weeks, with the city's accessibility advisory committee.

“We understand with a project of this magnitude that there are going to be some growing pains and somethings that need to be worked out,” said Weeks, who was one of the committee members who toured the new arena last week.

Jones said facilities in place to assist people in wheelchairs aren't working adequately yet.

“The reality, at least from what I saw the other night, they've got a lot of work to do.”