Orioles don't forget handicapped fans

November 30, 1990|By Bill Glauber

The fold and pivot isn't the latest double-play technique -- it's the theory behind the wheelchair-access seating to be installed at the Camden Yards baseball stadium.

A deceptively simple design has led to the creation of a flexible seat, which can be used by fans in wheelchairs as well as by the able-bodied. The 428 seats will be spread throughout the 46,620-seat park, enabling fans in wheelchairs to sit with friends and family.

"The seat just folds up, and then you can turn the chair, so a wheelchair can fit in its place," said Kim A. Beasley, an architect ,, with the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

A prototype of the seat was unveiled yesterday at a news conference at a downtown hotel. Beasley, whose rough sketch served as a design guide, said the seat will become an industry standard.

"There's nothing like it," he said. "It can be used in stadiums, arenas and theaters."

The seat will serve to liberate wheelchair fans from designated access zones. Memorial Stadium can currently accommodate 42 wheelchairs, mostly clustered in Section 41 behind home plate and the upper deck.

"I wasn't able to go to a game this past season because there were too many people in my party," said Marian Schooling Vessels, executive director of the Governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. "The only option was to be carried up four flights of ramps and carried over a group of people."

The accessible seats will cost $297 each, compared with $66.90 for each general seat. The Paralyzed Veterans of America has filed a patent for the seat design.

Stadium officials, working with Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Accessibility Task Force, formulated a plan to make the Camden Yards stadium more accessible than Memorial Stadium. Elevators, rest-room facilities, the picnic and ticket area, luxury boxes and parking, will all contain wheelchair-accessible features.

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