Disabled Coloradans suing Denver over access to Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Wheelchair users: We're forced to sit in back row

DENVER -- Six Coloradans with disabilities filed a class-action federal lawsuit against the City of Denver Thursday, claiming the city-owned Red Rocks Amphitheatre and its contractors "have implemented policies that have the effect of excluding patrons who use wheelchairs from all but the most distant seats."

By denying individuals with disabilities from "meaningful access" to the music groups they love at Red Rocks, the city is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the lawsuit filed by disability-rights groups. 

The amphitheater carved into a mountainside has 70 rows of seats, but people dependent on wheelchairs can only use special seating areas in the first row or the 70th row.

Those suing the city said the first-row seats are routinely unavailable, forcing them to buy seats that are the "farthest from the stage."

When they try to buy Row 1 seats online, they're sold out, the lawsuit claims. Then, they find the same seats are being re-sold on secondary ticket outlets, like StubHub, for hundreds of dollars more than their face value.

"It's almost impossible [to get tickets]. You can get on their first day pre-sale at exactly ten o'clock and tickets are already gone in the front row," said Frank Mango, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. "Sometimes, I've joined fan clubs and I've gotten American Express card to try to get an earlier pre-sale and even then, tickets are gone in the front row," Mangon told Denver7.

The disabled customers said that people without disabilities are buying up those tickets -- and the city and its contractors -- concert promoters and online ticket sellers -- aren't doing anything to stop them.  

"Red Rocks and the city have done bare minimum to say that they're meeting the ADA regulations," Mango said, adding, "and I think that the whole problem really stems from the top level ADA requirements from the DOJ... their excuse is, 'the government tells us we can't ask somebody what their disability is, therefore, even if somebody shows up in the front row and we know that they bought those tickets fraudulently, we're not allowed to ask them what their disability is.'"

Red Rocks officials told Denver7 they're hearing their customer's complaints.

"We continually monitor feedback and update venue operations in order to make all of our facilities, including Red Rocks Amphitheatre, comfortable, safe and accessible to all patrons," said Red Rocks Amphitheatre spokesman Brian Kitts in a statement sent to Denver7 on Friday. "We will continue to work with groups representing disabled communities, in order to improve the experience of patrons with disabilities to the extent we are allowed by law, including the ADA, and the unique characteristics of venues like Red Rocks Amphitheater."

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