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Thoughts from the ‘Accessible’ Section

It’s no secret, Matt and I love college football. Already we are gearing up for our Football Saturday tradition, which starts in just a few weeks! We’re starting to make plans to ensure we don’t have any plans, so our Saturdays will be free for our all day/all night football viewing pleasure. It is simply our favorite time of year!
The past few years, we've tried to get tickets to both an IA and an ISU game. We've missed a few games here and there, for various reasons, but this year we were all set to get tickets for both again. A few weeks ago I went online and ordered tickets for an IA game and within a few days they arrived in the mail. Our calendar is marked and we are excited for the upcoming trip to Kinnick Stadium…though I truly loath the long drive home, I am preparing to plan ahead a mini-tailgate back at the car after the game. Hopefully avoiding some of the post-game traffic horror that infuriated me last year.

Today I went online to see about tickets to an ISU game. Of course, I couldn't order ‘accessible’ tickets online…I had to call the ticket office. (insert long, unfruitful wait here)  After about 20+ minutes of waiting and listening to the recorded voice remind me again and again that you can always order tickets online, I hung up. Peeved. No, idiot recorded voice, I cannot simply order tickets online. And why not? Why must you make it MORE difficult for me to attend a game at my Alma Mater? I commenced stewing on this for a bit.

In Iowa there is a stiff rivalry between these two state schools. We catch a lot of flak from our friends who lean heavily (and quite loyally) to one side or the other when we toe the line in the middle most of the time. It’s true Matt tends to lean more IA and I tend to lean more ISU – but it’s only during the IA/ISU game that we actually split allegiances. We love both teams, both schools…their history and their sports programs.
When it comes to going to a football game at either stadium, however, my allegiance to ISU starts to wane. I know I've written before about our experiences at both stadiums – but after having had several years to adjust to our situation and our amazing experiences at other sporting events…the lack of quality accessible seats at Jack Trice Stadium really gets under my skin. When I think back to the first game we went to, after Matt’s stroke and how I had to push with all my might to get my 200+lb husband up that hill to our seats, my blood pressure rises. We were so happy to be there and I wanted so badly to have a great time – for Matt. We were just starting to explore new things, expanding our horizon with our new normal – so I grit my teeth and I tried my best to get us up there without too much complaining. The seats were so terrible – we could hardly see a darn thing, except the backs of the people standing up in front of us. I stood up to take a few pics, and try and keep an eye on the action, but poor Matt couldn't see much.

The next time, we discovered ‘accessible’ seats in the south end zone. While I didn't have to contend with pushing Matt up the hill, the view in the end zone isn't the best either and there are a lot of missing amenities at that end. Traveling back and forth from the concessions to Matt was a big pain.   Don’t get me wrong, it was a big improvement over the previous game – but it still made me irritated. Honestly, it just gets old feeling as though you’re being treated like a second class citizen. They’ll throw out a few folding chairs at the very back of a section of seats and call it ‘accessible’. Never mind that the folks in wheelchairs can’t see anything.  I mean, I certainly don’t mind sitting on a folding chair – it’s probably more comfortable than a bleacher…but I hate to look around and see these dedicated fans having to put up with less than ideal seating situations. And not just seating…bathrooms, concessions, parking…all of it is more difficult than it needs to be.

But then I think about our amazing trips to places like Wrigley Field. And how we were treated…special. The ushers there went above and beyond to prove to us they wanted us to have an awesome time. They went out of their way to show Matt that he is, in fact, not a second class citizen. He is a valuable customer…a fan who wants to show up and support his team.  He deserves to be able to SEE the game. To participate in what is going on around him. To eat the yummy stadium food and use a bathroom that doesn't put his safety in danger. After all he’s been through, the man deserves to go to a football game, cheer on his team, and have a good time. Don’t you think?? Unfortunately, I can’t even get a person to answer the phone at the ISU ticket office...so actually going to a game this year may be off the table.

Iowa – 1
Iowa State – big, fat 0

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