Woman with walker alleges discrimination at Pit

Posted at: 01/24/2014 7:42 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A decades-long Lobo basketball fan said UNM needs to find a permanent fix to its handicap parking shortage at the Pit after she was turned away this week.

Irene Hovey, a season-ticket holder who has trouble walking, said the lot reached capacity on Tuesday.  As a result, she was separated from her husband who had to drop her off at the arena and find a parking place nearly a mile away.

“I felt like I was begging somebody to be able to go to the game,” she said.

Hovey has a handicap parking tag and said she’s used the handicap lot for years.  Any time it’s filled up, she said parking lot attendants were able to find alternatives for fans that have disabilities.

“And this day they stopped us, and they stopped the people in front of us,” she said.

As Hovey and her husband left the arena, she waited 45-minutes as her husband walked to their car and got stuck in traffic.

“I was the last person out of there except for maybe 10 people that had green shirts that were cleaning up,” she said.

Other people dealt with similar problems, Hovey said.

University officials confirmed that they had an overflow parking problem at the handicap lot.  Next Saturday, the next home game, they said they’d setup an overflow handicap lot and offer golf cart shuttles to those who need them.

Hovey said she fought for shuttles like that three years ago.  But university officials said they stopped using them after demand decreased.

If the parking troubles don’t end, Hovey said she’ll stop attending games.

“If they're going to do the same thing, it's not worth it,” she said.