Posted by: gravessack | June 9, 2010

Ticket Controversy is Brewing

Well, the story has finally broke. The mystery has finally been solved as to why non-disabled fans are sitting in wheelchair seating areas at Target Field.

I read a story this morning (June 9) in the Star Tribune written by Jon Tevlin about how non-disabled fans are getting tickets in wheelchair sections. People post ads on Craigslist and StubHub to sell handicap seats with descriptions that would entice any fan to buy these tickets. But, the people who are doing this leave out one thing: the seats are in wheelchair sections. In the article Kevin Smith, the Twins executive director said, “We fully expect people who buy these seats to use them as intended. Otherwise, not good. It’s like a 16-year-old taking Grandpa’s handicapped parking sticker.”

The Twins need to figure out some way to make sure that disabled fans are buying handicap seats and not fans who can use regular seats. Able fans should not be buying handicap seats and if they do it should only be because they are accompanying a disabled fan. Every time a fan without a disability buys handicap tickets, one less disabled fan can go to a game and that is not good.

Every time I go to a Twins game, I have wondered how seemingly non-disabled fans got their tickets in these sections and now I know.  Thank you, Jon Tevlin, for shedding light. To read his article, “Sweet seats, except they’re for fans with disabilities” click this link: http://www.startribune.com/local/95915354.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU

Written by: Michael L. Sack

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Responses

  1. Haha, I’m sorry but I definitely did laugh when I first read this. Reason being I could imagine buying a pair of tickets off Craigslist for me and a date and seeing my face as I realized they were for handicapped seats and getting thrown out because of it.

    Definitely a problem for the ballpark. Hopefully this kind of thing just goes along with the fact that the ballpark is still new and will go away with time – it’s probably just one person making these scams.

    But on the issue I’s say as long as all of the handicapped people are getting A. their tickets, B. their seats, then I suppose it’s not a problem to let other people fill the handicapped seating.

    Or better yet, give those extra seats at discount to friends of wheelchair-abled! 🙂

  2. I say give all the tickets to chubby 48 year old SEAs. Not that I know any of course.

  3. As an usher at Target Field, here’s what I have to say:

    1. StubHub is a huge culprit here. Ask a group in WC seats that don’t appear to be with someone with a disability about how they got their seats, and there’s a pretty good chance their answer will be StubHub. Also, many times I’ve had people come up to me and ask “What does WC under the Row mean?” Well, it means that you’re in a wheelchair seat.

    2. Since these are disabled seats and only available by special request from the ticket office, they don’t always sell out. Therefore, they are released to the public a couple hours before the game, making it very easy for your Average Joe Six-Pack to buy them.

    3. Many people that either have standing room only (SRO)* tickets or seats in some other place of the ballpark end up moving down to the WC seats. They see a couple empty seats and an unobstructed view of the action, and they assume that they’re open for anyone in the ballpark. It feels like at least once a game, I have to tell people to move out of the seats.

    * A lot of fans don’t know what SRO means either. Can you tell that we had a low-quality indoor stadium for the past 20+ years?

    It’s also common for someone to go to a concession stand and then take their food to the WC seats and eat it there before returning to their actual seats. This and the “Oh, we didn’t realize you needed tickets for these seats” people are the usual culprits that don’t belong there.

    Another issue with the fans is that they like to crowd the WC seats. The rule is that fans that are do not have WC seats must stay either behind the railing if there is one, or stay about 2 feet behind the people that are seated. But as you can tell or assume, they don’t always comply.

    4. As far as I know, there’s no way the ticket office can confirm that at least one of your tickets is actually going to a handicapped person. People are finding out that all you have to do is specially request the seats, and you’ll get them. Unfortunately, some are getting greedy when they see the padded seats without arm rests.

    5. If you are in a group with a person with a disability, the Twins will allow you to sit with that person, provided you both have WC tickets. So, there’s a good chance some people are either friends or family of someone that is actually disabled.

    I hope this was helpful for you.

  4. “Every time a fan without a disability buys handicap tickets, one less disabled fan can go to a game and that is not good.”

    I just don’t think that’s the case.

    How many handicap seats are there at Target Field? Let’s say 1,000. If the Twins sell 500 of them to handicapped fans and their companions, what do they do with the other 500? Sell them to anyone a few days before the game. I see nothing wrong with that.

    I’d be willing to bet that any handicapped fan will be able to sit in a fully accessible area regardless of when they buy the tickets.

  5. I’m sorry, but I’ve bought WC seats in the past for Twins and Wild games and am in fact sitting in the WC seats in left field for a game next week. I don’t see a problem with it.

    If the seats are sitting there unsold months after they first went on sale to the public and I buy them off StubHub a few days before the game, big deal.

    The way the writer speaks, he would rather see the seats sit empty than being used by those who aren’t disabled, which makes no sense at all.

    • Great news, Joshue, you’re a jerk! And I suppose the Box seats and the Champions club shoud be sold at general admission prices too, as long no one is using them.

  6. Oh brother. What a can of worms. The old stadium’s WC seats had problems, ie. limited view seats, i think they had poor access to restrooms/elevators. So the new stadium is making up for that. But here comes the Stubhub and they are taking advantage of a seat with nice amenities to sell to people with OUT disabilities. I don’t think its right. I think the seats should stay empty. Why? Cause they are FOR people with disabilities. Why people just sit there and eat their concession foods and make a mess is beyond me? It’s ridiculous. People that do not have disabilities or live with someone with disabilities or work with people with disabilities rarely understand what they/we go through and how hard it is to be heard, treated fairly, etc. So now the new stadium is taking care of people in WC and someone is taking advantage. That’s what I see. It just doesn’t seem right.

  7. But ribchick, that makes no sense. Ok, I agree those with disabilities should get first crack at the WC seats and that they should be held out of a general public sale until the day of the game or so. While that still doesn’t stop people from buying them anyways and selling them on StubHub or eBay, it does help a bit.

    But the idea that if the WC seats are sold out under that scenario that NOBODY should sit in them when there are paying customers more than willing to do so just makes no sense.

    It seems to me you want priority and special treatment than everybody else. I think you should be seeking equal treatment. You said it best, those with disabilities want to be “treated fairly,” but to me it seems like you want even more than that.

  8. joshua you read me like an open book. and for as long as i breathe i will be fighting for my own son to get the help he needs, our family to get the assistance we need, while dealing with constant rejection. its such an honor to finally be heard and get nice seats, good view, near the restroom, elevators, etc. we have a nice space at the new stadium and hopefully it will be respected and taken care of. no i do not want snackers in those seats. i would prefer it if people with disabilities would only have access to those seats. if i don’t go through life wanting “more than that” then i might as well hang it up.
    there are plenty of seats in the ball park for people withOUT disabilities. do the math. have some compassion and respect. that’s all i have to say about it. it has nothing to do with the almighty dollar you are talking about.

  9. ribchick,

    Everyone agrees that folks shouldn’t be allowed to sit and eat their food in handicapped seats. But we know they aren’t, because Andrew the usher says he kicks people out all the time.

    The Twins want to maximize revenue. Which means they will sell every available seat. Why let seats sit empty if every single handicapped fan and their companions are already taken care of?

    It’s clear you want special treatment based on your “if I can’t sit there, no one can” attitude.

    If I hear of a handicapped fan who is unable to attend a game because all the accessible seats have been sold to people without disabilities, I will be mad as hell at the Twins. But I sincerely doubt that has, or will, ever happen.

  10. By the way, in general, it seems like the non-disabled that sit in WC seats have usually been willing to move if a person with a disability comes along, regardless if they have a ticket or not.

    The reason I say “or not” is because for the 2nd Royals game during this homestand, I had a group of people in the right field grandstand that had received free tickets to the game. They had one person in a wheelchair and had asked for WC seats, but didn’t receive them. So, I allowed the person in the wheelchair and a friend to sit in the WC seats, despite not having a ticket. There were people that eventually showed up that did have tickets for those seats (and did have their own wheelchairs as well) but we worked together and we got everyone a seat. The 2 chaperones that actually had tickets for the WC seats sat behind the two people in wheelchairs and were perfectly fine with it.

    Trust me, if you have a disability and want to sit in a WC seat, I’m sure the ushers, our supervisors, and the ticket office will do everything we can to accommodate your needs.

  11. ribchick, I think you are doing a disservice to other disabled people. I have a disabled nephew and I don’t expect special treatment for him. I just want fair treatment. You want to go above and beyond that. Believe me, I understand how hard it can be for the disabled in a society that too often seems to go out of its way to make it even harder for them.

    So I do have compassion and respect. I just think it’s ludicrous you don’t want anybody but disabled people sitting there. So if those tickets haven’t sold an hour before the game you still wouldn’t be ok with letting non-disabled people buy them? Again, that makes no sense.

    What you want is special treatment, not fair and equal treatment. You really should be a little ashamed of yourself in my opinion.

  12. It is the same idea as HC parking. You don’t get to use HC parking just because no one is there NOW. How about HC “walk” up?….. Are you sure you want to go down the “fair” argument road? I tell you what: Spend a week (or 45 years) trying to breath with someone standing on your chest. Then spend a few years with two broken legs and your tounge super glued to the roof of your mouth and then get back to me about what is “fair” Life is not fair. That is not the point. The point is access. If me and my pal in a chair decide to screw around and skip work to catch a game (not that I would do such an irresponsible thing) We should not have to compete with a couple of guys that can tee it up for 18 then use the HC tickets they bought yesterday. If those tickets remain unused that is fine. The option should be to the kid in the chair. I have alot of other choices available when I skip work. oops umm…. cough, cough I mean when I get really really sick. Yeah, thats it. I mean WAY to sick to work…..cough cough….So move over.

  13. Comparing seats at a ballpark you pay for to something like handicapped parking is ludicrous.

    It doesn’t matter really. The Twins will continue to allow fans to buy these tickets if they aren’t sold out ahead of time and able-bodied fans like me will buy them when we have a chance without feeling guilty about it one bit.

    You’re right. Life isn’t fair, but it seems to me the Twins are doing the best job possible to make this fair and provide the best access they can. Sorry if you don’t like it. I’ll be the one sitting in your seat then I guess.

  14. PS
    I sure hope the sound of me having to suction bloody plugs out of my pals throat is not interfering with your enjoyment of the game. I know that would not be, well, you know, fair. Have a nice day.

  15. If HC parking is not being used, why not use it for VIP parking to produce extra income? Or valet parking. Although HC parking does not seem to “cost” anything, there is opportunity cost tied to everything. So it is not a “ludicrous” argument. The lost revenue in parking or retail space is built back into the cost we all pay. Again Life is not fair. I’m tired of having to pay extra for those spots to go empty. I say we charge those wimps to use those front row spots. (spend $200 and use the VIP parking on your next visit) But NOOO we have to leave them open in case someone with a sore foot shows up.

  16. Whatever. I’ll wave to you next game I see you at.

  17. This seems to be an issue of access rather than availability. Although tickets for able bodied persons are sold at the last minute, persons who need wheelchair access can’t necessarily “run” to their seats to catch the game at the last minute. If we’re talking last minute purchase, we need to at least allow equal access to all sports fans, not just those who can navigate their way through the stands without roadblocks.

  18. As a twins fan who uses a chair, I see this as a difficult situation. I completely understand the twins need and desire to make money, after all, they are a business. But I also see the unfairness of potentially having non-disabled patrons in these seats. What I would propose, is that if a person in a wheelchair, or anyone who needs handicap seats tries to buy them and finds out they are all sold out, would then purchase STO tickets, or any other type of tickets and be permitted to go around to the handicap accessible sections, and ask people who are in the handicap seats if they would switch with them, and those in handicap seats who do not need them, would switch. I have done this at stadiums across the country, at other MLB, NBA, and even NHL playoff hockey games. People are generally willing to acquiesce to this request, done politely, of course. The Twins could sweeten the deal by offering a free hat, shirt, food, etc., to patrons who switch. This system relies on a bit of the honor system, of course, that people will not pretend to be disabled just to get these seats, but I have faith in my fellow Minnesotans to be honorable. This of course is not a perfect solution, but it does seem the most fair. Also, if people buy handicap accessible seats from the Twins, they should be told then and there that they may have to switch seats, if they are not disabled, and someone with a disability comes along.

  19. Ok, here’s a story from Sunday’s Twins game that might appeal to some people involved in this discussion.

    Yesterday, we had a group of about 50 wheelchair people come to the game. For some reason, though, they had tickets for a section, even though they claimed they asked for WC seats from the ticket office. They said the ticket office told them that they were receiving handicap-accessible tickets. However, both myself and my supervisor felt that there must have been more to the story than they were telling us, because that would have been an embarrassingly huge mistake by the ticket office, especially when the group’s name included “Wheelchair Camp.”

    Even though they didn’t have WC seats, we had no choice but to give them those seats until those with the actual WC tickets showed up. In one case, 2 guys that had the tickets were willing to swap tickets; in another, 3 people sat behind the 2 people in their group that actually needed the WC seats. In Section 238, we ended up seating about 16 people in a WC area that should have had only 10.

  20. I have no problems with the Twins selling WC seating to able bodied fans provided those are the only type tickets still available. These should be the very last seats sold to the general public, even after SRO seats. Unused WC seats are probably the most valuable resource an usher has, they will find a good use for them.

    I am a wheelchair user and I have gone to four games so far this year. A few things I dislike about their current process of selling WC tickets.

    I called for tickets the day single game tickets went on sale. At that time according to the ticket office all the WC seats on every level between sections 106 to 123 were sold out. So I ended up buying about 8 games mostly in the corners. In reality, many of those seats weren’t really sold. The Twins held onto them for whatever reason and later sold them, many to non handicapped individuals. This happens almost every year, even when they were in the dome. They need to make all WC seating available for single game purchase when single game’s go on sale.

    When you call for WC tickets, the Twins make no effort whatsoever to ensure someone in your party actually needs WC seating. They simply sell you the tickets, no questions asked. This makes it way to easy for people to scam the system. Yes most fans will not do this; but the broker types for sure will, especially when ticket demand is high. With only 800 WC seats available, losing any to these types of sales is a significant percentage. There needs to be put into place some sort of procedure that attempts to discourage this type of behavior.

    Other ballparks I have gone to at least give you a stern warning over the phone concerning whom WC seating is intended. Some even go as far as requiring WC seating tickets be picked up at will call. Wrigley in fact told me someone in your party darn well better look like they need WC seating or we will not give you the tickets. Personally, I like the idea of treating WC seating differently than normal tickets.

    I believe WC ticket sales should not be final. One should be able to return or exchange a WC ticket up to a reasonable number days before game time, perhaps 3 to 5. Since one is allowed to return/exchange, you should not be able to resell WC tickets. Advanced purchased WC tickets must be picked up at will call on game day, thus requiring proper ID. This would virtually eliminate brokering of WC seating.

  21. @ Dave: Holding WC tickets as long as possible, and even failing to sell them, would certainly help us ushers. As I said in my last comment, we often get people that buy regular tickets but then ask to use the WC seats due to a variety of problems. Keeping these seats available would certainly help.

    However, even with all WC seats sold for games, we still have problems with people that either have SRO or regular seat tickets taking the WC seats. They think the seats are open for everyone, or they see the padding and lack of armrests and they assume that they can take these seats, even if it’s for a short time. I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s annoying when I have to kick out people that don’t have WC tickets. Having open, unsold WC seats just encourages people that don’t belong there to take a seat.

  22. I sat in the WC seats last night. Great view and while I gladly would have given my seats up for somebody in a wheel chair or their companion, there were plenty of spots to go around for everybody. In fact, the next section over had a bunch of open folding chairs that weren’t even being used.

  23. By the way, I plan to make it a point of buying WC seats to every game I go to at the last minute the rest of the season just to make people like ribchick, Tim and Eddy mad.

  24. What about people who are not necessarily in a wheelchair, but have issues handling a lot of stairs? There are many middle aged and elderly people that cannot go up and down all the stairs in the stadium due to health issues. They do not technically qualify as handicapped. I bring my 80 year old mother to games occasionally and I always buy WC seats from Stub Hub. She is not technically handicapped, but cannot go up and down a lot of stairs due to health issues. I really appreciate the opportunity to purchase a seat that allows her access to an elevator. I never purchase seats directly from the Twins and always wait a day or two before the game. I know there are some very healthy looking people in the WC seats, but don’t judge as you never know if they have some health issue that brings them to that section.

  25. I have never purchased tickets or even been to a twins game but wanted to buy tickets for my boyfriends birthday. I went onto the twins page and clicked best available seats and seen they were in section 111 and decided I liked the location and purchased them to be mailed out to me.

    These are tickets for the Twins vs. Blue Jays on Friday May 13th. I purchased these tickets on Thursday April 28 th. I just received the tickets yesterday and opened them up today and noticed that our tickets are Row:WC. Here Im looking around on the internet about these seats and why I received ADA seats, and am reading everywhere that it is frowned upon to sit in these seats when you dont have a disability or are not with someone with a disablity.

    So now after reading all these articles and discussions about the ADA seats at the Target Field I do not want to have these seats and be looked down upon by others, or have the chance of having to give up our seats if all the WC seats are taken and someone who needs the seating asks me to switch seats ( obviously we would because its the right thing in that case, but where would that put us after spending $70 for each ticket). I am going to call tomorrow and hope they switch us out of these seats so I do not feel guilty, the Twins Website sure needs some adjusting if this senerio is frowned upon and they are the ones selling these tickets weeks before the game.

    Just thought I would fill you in on my experience with this

  26. i accidently bought ROW WC 231 tickets I dont want them or people looking at me for being in a WC row! Is there anyway Stubhub can stress the word WheelCHAIR !!!!! ROW im so mad!

  27. I’m about to buy tickets at Busch Stadium on Stub Hub. I just google searched Row WC because I had no idea what that meant. That may sound silly, but there are other letters for various parts of the stadium which makes it confusing. I just didn’t want WC to be awful seats. Now I see this post and have guilt. But had I not googled it, I never would have known. Affordable seats for my 11 year old son’s birthday…..Cardinal’s biggest fan…dream come true to see a post-season game in the middle of the week!!!
    If I don’t buy them, someone else will. And it might be another person like me that didn’t have a clue that WC meant wheelchair. So before glaring at the next person in a WC seat, you might think that they didn’t even know what they were getting when purchasing them.


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