Special Reports

Panel: Plenty of handicapped spaces at Intrust Bank Arena

From parking and seating to providing assisted listening devices and sign language interpreters, Sedgwick County has done a good job of making sure Intrust Bank Arena will be accessible to everyone, those on a committee say.

One member, however, is eager to see whether there is enough parking.

Arena officials worked with the Wichita/Sedgwick County Access Advisory Board to ensure that people with disabilities can attend concerts and sporting events without problems.

The arena meets or exceeds Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, said Mandy Pankratz, economic development analyst for the city.

David Calvert, a Wichita lawyer and former Sedgwick County District Court judge who has brought accessibility lawsuits against the city and county, said he's been impressed with the way everyone worked together to make the arena a place for everyone.

"They've done a really excellent job," said Calvert, chairman of the city-county board. "The main concerns are the overall compliance with the ADA and making the arena accessible to persons with disabilities. They are in full compliance with that."

The Kansas Coliseum's Britt Brown Arena is not compliant with ADA, which was one factor in seeking a new arena.

Calvert, who uses a wheelchair, said what particularly stands out to him is the way handicapped seating is dispersed across the arena instead of in one spot.

"You can get a seat in the arena in just about any area that you want to instead of putting all the people with wheelchairs in one area," he said.

Jim Sachs, director of seating for the arena, said depending on the configuration, there are 350 to 400 handicapped seats available. People with disabilities can have up to three friends or family members accompany them.

Handicapped seats will be available at every price level, he said.

Calvert and other members of the board inspected the arena on a tour and signed off after a few minor changes, he said.

Handicapped parking will be in the surface lots on the north and south sides of the arena. There are 24 on-site parking spots.

Parking in the 24 on-site spaces will be free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Other handicapped parking will be provided at the lowest parking fee charged on any given event night. Handicapped parking is available in four city-owned lots. There are 12 spots in Lot A, in the State Office Building's parking garage; 13 spaces in Lot B, the surface lot south of the State Office Building; six spaces in Lot C, at Emporia and Lewis; and 18 spaces in Lot D, southeast of the arena on Waterman.

In addition, privately owned lots that have agreed to provide parking during events have handicapped parking, Pankratz said.

The number of parking spaces required under the Americans with Disabilities Act is based on the total number of parking spaces available, not on the size of the building or how many people it seats, Pankratz noted.

For 200 to 300 parking spaces, for example, the minimum number of handicapped spaces required is seven. There are 263 on-site spaces at the arena.

"We built almost four times as many as needed on-site," Pankratz said.

In Lot D, which has 470 parking spaces, "we have almost twice as many as you need for the size of the lot." Lot D is designated as handicapped parking.

If there is more demand for handicapped parking, "we could create more spaces in Lot D or dedicate a portion of another lot with handicapped parking temporarily," Pankratz said.

People who park on-site will be asked to provide identification that matches a handicapped placard or license plate.

The Q Line trolley system is handicapped accessible. Two wheelchairs can fit on each trolley.

"If we find we need to do some additional shuttling, we'll look into that," Pankratz said.

Steve Stambaugh, vice president for vision rehabilitation services at Envision and a member of the advisory board, said it looks like there is enough handicapped parking, "but we won't maybe notice what the shortcomings are" until events get under way.

"I'll let you know when I can't find a parking spot," he said.

According to the Kansas Department of Revenue, there are 39,164 handicapped placards — those that hang from rear-view mirrors — and 7,182 handicapped license plates issued in Sedgwick County.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle