Facility Dude

Does your facility need an ADA makeover?

By Kate Donnelly
Jan 22, 2015

Clubs, Facilities Management, Safety and Risk Management

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Does your facility need an ADA makeover? In addition to sustainability and energy efficiency guiding many facilities' retrofitting processes over the past several years, another factor has had a similar impact when it comes to assessing a building - accessibility.

Sporting and athletic facilities also fall under this umbrella. One area that administrators should make sure is updated to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act is available seating. Especially in older arenas and stadiums, bleachers and bench seating may likely not meet minimum accessibility guidelines. Facility managers should familiarize themselves with the ADA basics so they can better determine if their stadium seating is due for a retrofit.

What does the ADA require?

While specific guidelines may vary from state to state, in general, the ADA regulations governing accessible stadium seating are fairly uniform and straightforward across the board. According to the ADA website, in order for bleachers and bench seating to be in compliance, they must incorporate a variety of factors. Not only must accessible seating be provided, but in most instances it must also be integrated into the overall construction of the stadium. Administrators can't, for example, just add on an additional section of seating off to the side. ADA-compliant bleachers must provide a line of sight similar to what patrons in other seats would receive.

An interesting point raised by the ADA guidelines is that there is an equal emphasis not just on basic accessibility, but on comfort and decency as well.

Do you need to upgrade?

As Athletic Business magazine pointed out, in some states, older facilities that were built prior to the passing of the ADA in 1990 may be covered by a grandfather clause and thus not have to upgrade otherwise non-compliant seating. For facility managers and administrators, this is a consideration that effective capital forecasting can help determine. By tracking equipment condition - including infrastructure such as seating - through a CMMS, you can better plan at what point in the future you'll have the budget to retrofit your existing bleachers or replace them altogether.

More facilities may need to be upgraded than you might guess. As Chris Taylor of ADA Compliance Consultants Inc. told the source, most facilities constructed after 2005 are likely to be out of ADA compliance in some way or another. A thorough walk-through and audit of your sporting facility is the first step in encouraging ADA compliance.

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