CHICAGO — Federal prosecutors in Chicago filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Cubs, alleging the team failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act when it executed a series of renovations at Wrigley Field.
Attorneys for the government on Thursday said that while the ballpark renovations “significantly enhanced the gameday experience for many fans, particularly those able to take advantage of premium clubs and other luxury accommodations, the same can not be said for fans with disabilities.”
The suit states that the Cubs “removed the best wheelchair seating in the stadium, failed to incorporate wheelchair seating into new premium clubs and group seating areas … and failed to remove architectural barriers to access in unaltered portions of Wrigley Field where it was readily achievable to do so.”
Federal prosecutors noted that the alleged violations all occurred even though they “had ample opportunity and a significant ADA obligation to incorporate wheelchair seating and other accessible elements into and throughout the new and improved facility.”
David Felimon Cerda, who filed the complaint in 2017, claims fully-accessible seating for wheelchair patrons is very poor.
“They should have improved the handicap seats instead of making them worse,” he said.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction that would force the Cubs to bring the ballpark into ADA compliance as well as “compensatory damages in an appropriate amount for injuries suffered as a result of defendants noncompliance with the ADA.”
The following statement was released by Cubs officials:
We are disappointed in the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to file suit and hope the matter can be resolved amicably, but we will defend Wrigley Field and our position it meets accessibility requirements for fans. The renovation of Wrigley Field greatly increased accessibility of the ballpark and was completed in accordance with applicable law and historic preservation standards consistent with the ballpark’s designation as a National and City of Chicago landmark. Since the Department of Justice’s initiation of its review in November 2019, we have fully cooperated with every inquiry and made several offers to voluntarily further enhance accessible features of the ballpark, including seating, restrooms, concessions and other key accessibility elements, in response to the Department’s inquiry.
Wrigley Field is now more accessible than ever in its 108-year history, demonstrated by increasing accessible seating options by more than 50 percent on and across more levels and in more locations. Wrigley Field has 11 more elevators than it did prior to the start of the renovation, more accessible restroom facilities, assistive listening technology for fans with hearing impairments, enhanced audio speakers and sound systems throughout the ballpark, and upgraded ticketing and online systems for purchase of seating, including accessible seating. The Friendly Confines today is more welcoming than ever to fans with accessibility needs.
Another lawsuit, also alleging ADA violations, was filed against the team in 2017. That suit is still pending.