Judge Sides With The Cubs Over Alleged Wrigley Field ADA Violations
A federal judge has ruled against a father-son duo who alleged owners of Chicago’s 109-year-old Wrigley Field violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by eliminating much of its wheelchair-accessible seating as part of a $575M stadium renovation project that concluded in 2019.
U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso brought the more than 5-year-old case to a close Wednesday, ruling the Cubs had at least one more accessible seat than required by the ADA, Courthouse News reported.
“Although Plaintiff’s situation is unfortunate, he fails to prove that the [Cubs] violated the ADA,” Alonso wrote in his ruling. “Specifically, Plaintiff fails to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that [Wrigley Field] fails to have the required number of accessible seats and that the accessible seats are horizontally dispersed around the stadium.”
Attorney David Cerda first filed suit against the Chicago Cubs in 2017, as renovations were underway, on behalf of his son, an avid Cubs fan who has muscular dystrophy. The suit claimed Cerda and his son had enjoyed watching games from a section behind home plate that was razed to make way for a bar area. The Cubs' 1060 renovation project relocated wheelchair seating to less appealing areas with poor visibility, far away from the field of play, Cerda said in his suit.
“It's a textbook failure to integrate the seats according to the ADA,” Cerda said in his opening statement.
But Cubs attorneys argued — and the judge agreed — that many fans, not just those with disabilities, are forced to cope with obstructed views. At an April trial, Cubs attorney Donna Welch said the stadium offered 225 accessible seats, more than the 209-seat threshold called for by the ADA.
"We are grateful for the court's decision and its validation of our belief we followed accessibility guidelines throughout the 1060 Project," the Cubs said in a statement provided to Bisnow. "The Friendly Confines today is more welcoming than ever to fans with accessibility needs and, as we showed during the trial, the Project 1060 renovation increased accessibility of the ballpark in accordance with the law and the ballpark’s designation as a National and City of Chicago landmark."
Cerda told Courthouse News he planned to appeal, adding his son was “shockingly disappointed” by the judge’s decision.
UPDATE, JUNE 23, 9:30 A.M. CT: This story has been updated with a statement from the Chicago Cubs.