Family says disabled grandpa left without a seat at The Pit

Posted at: 02/03/2014 8:09 AM
Updated at: 02/03/2014 8:14 AM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Another family has come forward claiming unequal access for Lobo fans with disabilities at The Pit on UNM's campus.

Last week, KOB reported a shortage of handicap accessible parking at the basketball venue. On Sunday, a family with generations of Lobo fans says Saturday night's game was a letdown.

Jennifer Foote says her disabled 92-year-old grandfather was without a seat because he is in a wheelchair.

Foote and her 92-year-old grandpa Walter Rowe cheered the Broncos in the Super Bowl on Sunday. But Saturday night at The Pit, these fans say they had a big reason not to cheer.

"It was a disappointment," Rowe said.

Foote says she took her grandpa to a Lobo basketball game Saturday night.

"I called the special number on the website for wheelchair accessible seating," Foote said.

Rowe needed handicap-accessible seating. Foote says that's what was promised from The Pit box office. She says it's not what they got.

"The seats were a row of four seats at the very top of a section. But they were in the middle of the row," she said.

It was impossible to get her grandpa to the middle of that row.

"I don't think that complies with the law," she said.

He had to sit in his wheelchair up against a concrete pole, far from the rest of the family.

"They put up against a concrete pillar and the wind was blowing down my back and everything else," Rowe said.

Foote talked to The Pit ticket office. She says a woman there said the seats she'd been sold are not wheelchair accessible.

"She didn't offer any other options she didn't offer to exchange our tickets," she said.

Foote says Pit management told her wheelchair accessible seats are only available for season ticket holders.

"My understanding is that under the ADA, they have to offer tickets to everyone on an equal basis," she said.

KOB contacted Pit ticket office management.

They say wheelchair accessible seating is available to everyone.

 They also say it sells out very quickly.

 A manager tells KOB Rowe was given a handicap "overflow" seat Saturday night.

Foote says that's not quite good enough.

"Especially for someone who's been such a big Lobos fan and a supporter over the years," she said. "It was a bit of a slap in the face."

This accusation isn't the first targeting The Pit for being less-than-friendly for disabled fans.

KOB 4 On Your Side exposed a handicap parking shortage at The Pit last week. At the game on Saturday, UNM created additional overflow parking for disabled fans.