Birmingham woman, mother said they had game day challenges at Bryant-Denny Stadium
TUSCALOOSA, Ala, (WBRC) - The University of Alabama changed some game-day procedures for 2022, with the goal of making the stadium more handicap accessible.
But a woman from Birmingham says more needs to be done.
Julie Garrett-Sloan says they knew about the changes ahead of time, but didn’t realize what a challenge it would be for her and her mom to get inside the stadium. Garrett-Sloan said the game Saturday night between Alabama and Utah State did not go well for her and her mom.
“It was a disaster,” said Julie Garrett-Sloan.
“We always had, the buses no longer run so I knew it was going to be a problem,” Garrett-Sloan said.
The university moved disability parking closer to the stadium, from the Campus Drive parking deck, to the Tutwiler deck.
But, Garrett-Sloan says there were no buses to take her and her 88-year-old mother to the stadium, like years past, just one golf cart.
“Only one golf cart and they take us and dropped off us at the closest to the stadium which was the southeast corner of the stadium. We made it our elevator which was about 50 yards but we made it to the elevator and they said absolutely not and told us we had to go to the front of the stadium.. And I’m thinking to myself she can’t do it,” she said.
The front of the stadium, another 50 yards to go for Garrett-Sloan and her mom, with arthritis, all this in the midst of 100,000 fans.
But along the walk Garrett-Sloan says thankfully they ran into UA senior associate athletics director Mike Ward.
“He saved our lives. Right at that midpoint he could tell we were pretty upset he managed to get us to our seats,” she said.
To their seats by virtue of riding the nearest elevator. Garrett-Sloan and her mom say they have nothing but great respect for the University and will attend future games, but both feel the school didn’t think this one through.
“I just wonder about the other disabled people.. how did they make it?” said Garrett-Sloan.
The University of Alabama released this statement Thursday afternoon:
Disability parking was moved to the reserved Tutwiler Parking Deck for the 2022 season, placing it much closer to the stadium. Accessible golf cart shuttles transport fans to the southeast corner of the stadium, a short distance from security and accessible elevators. This location was chosen because the majority of ADA seating in Bryant-Denny Stadium is located on the east side of the stadium. Once at the stadium, fans can request a complimentary wheelchair escort by going to First Aid or by calling or texting the Guest Service Center at 205-348-5620. The wheelchair escort service is available to and from the entry gates and seating areas.
We’re sorry this fan didn’t enjoy the expected gameday experience we want for everyone attending Bryant Denny Stadium, and we have reached out to her directly to find out what happened and address the issue. While this was the only complaint we received among the more than 270 others taking advantage of the services we offer to support fans with disabilities, we take any concerns seriously.
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