Disabled stadium seating needed first

    205
    print

    Last week, TCU officials announced with fervor the $94 million improvement budget to renovate the Brown-Lupton Student Center and build four new residence halls and a University Union. Great, I think, as I do agree the student body needs a more functional space. Also, there is no doubt the campus has an overcrowding issue that needs to be addressed. After the expansion, our future educators will also be the beneficiaries of a multi-million dollar makeover to the Bailey Building. Despite my belief that the planned improvements are worthy, one of the updates I think is most needed will not be tended to with these funds. This place is where a large majority of Horned Frog fans congregate every Saturday evening around 6 p.m., or maybe even hours before the designated kick-off, to cheer on their favorite players: Amon Carter Stadium and, specifically, its disabled seating arrangements.

    For those not aware of the problem, disabled students and other individuals using mobility aides are relegated to sit in one area only: the north end zone. One choice in a nearly 46,000 seat stadium – and it’s nowhere near the student section.

    Even though the stadium was built in the 1930s, I expect better than that.

    The area in the north end zone is no luxury suite either. It measures about 30 feet by 10 feet and is in the shape of a semi-circle. There is barely enough space for five wheelchairs and each person in one to have another person with them to watch the game.

    And don’t think the chairs the stadium offers for friends of the disabled fans are seats that came with the stadium – they clearly came out of a storage closet, and on Nov. 5, after two consecutive road games, the chairs were still covered with dust and dirt. If you don’t get there at least 20 minutes in advance, you are forced to be in the dreaded second row behind a row of “fans” that I’m not sure really pay attention to the game at all.

    This was my fate at the Mountain West Conference championship game against Colorado State two weeks ago when I struggled to find a view over a number of heads that rose above my own for the entire first half, while my beloved Horned Frogs scored 24 of their 33 points.

    I am proud to say that I am only 5 feet 1 inch tall on a lucky day; unfortunately that doesn’t help my cause.

    When I called Campus Life and the chancellor’s office in search of a somewhat knowledgeable individual to discuss my complaints with, each office put me on hold at least two times and seemed baffled by my questions. My mission is to ensure that everyone in the TCU community is no longer baffled by the concept of providing adequate seating for all fans, able-bodied or disabled.

    Associate Athletic Director Ross Bailey said financing the renovation is the issue and the reason the project was not completed years ago. He said The Board will meet in February for “a comprehensive study of Amon Carter Stadium.”

    But the lack of funds argument is now easily undercut by the simple idea of a $94 million sum coming TCU’s way. The cost of the renovation I am calling for is very minute comparatively; I estimate no more than $100,000, yet the impact will be immense. Fans with physical limitations will see TCU in a new, more accepting light, and the community will be able to use TCU as an example of a university that shows to everyone, either a student on campus or a visitor on Saturday night, that it supports all its dedicated Horned Frog fans.

    Just a little effort will go a really long way.

    Michelle Nicoud is a freshman news-editorial journalism major from Dallas.