Smooth Path To Bobcats Arena

Charlotte, N.C., city officials and members of Programs for Accessible Living (PAL) have ironed out some concerns regarding exterior wheelchair access at the new Charlotte Bobcats Arena.

Since the 19,000-capacity venue opened with The Rolling Stones October 21st, some patrons using wheelchairs found they had to take the long way around to the entrance because flights of steps blocked the way. That didn’t go over too well, according to a report by local TV station WSOC, which said a lawsuit was in the works.

Arena CEO Barry Silberman said the inconvenience at the city-owned venue was noted and steps taken to make the trek smoother.

“There was a concern about people in wheelchairs who could not traverse from the transit center, which is right across the street from us, and get to the location on 5th Street,” Silberman told Pollstar. “The initial issue goes back to when this building was first being designed.”

Silberman referred to the construction of a light rail system and elevators that were to be ready by the time the arena opened.

“We did all our design and planning based on having this elevator available when we opened,” he explained. “The problem came from the fact that the light rail construction timetable was delayed and there was no temporary elevator solution that really dawned on anybody.”

The solution includes creating a path near an adjacent parking structure and cutting two curbs into an existing sidewalk to make it completely accessible. Silberman said that plan has met with PAL members’ approval.

“We want everybody to feel happy and comfortable and to think that we’re sensitive individuals here,” he said.

Meanwhile, the light rail project with elevators is scheduled for completion in spring 2007.

— Tina Amendola