It markets itself as one of the finest sports arenas in the world, but how does Rogers Place stack up when it comes to accessibility for those living with disabilities?
When put up next to Rexall Place, there’s really no comparison, said Zachary Weeks with the City of Edmonton’s Accessibility Advisory Committee.
“There really isn’t the right words to even describe it,” Weeks said.
“It’s a world-class facility with world-class accessibility behind it. It’s inclusive for everyone.”
The Accessibility Advisory Committee was brought in five years ago during the design phase of the new downtown arena to consult on accessibility features. From additional seats and elevators, to Braille and technology to help the hearing impaired, Rogers Place goes above and beyond what’s required in Alberta building codes.
“It was invaluable. They gave us so many good ideas,” Jack Ashton, program manager at Rogers Place, said of the committee.
“Helping guide us through some of the special needs that the community has, things to consider. And not just to meet the Alberta Building Code requirements… or even the City of Edmonton accessibility policy, but to make the arena better than that.”
Rogers Place has 73 accessible seats plus the same number of companion seats; they’re located throughout the arena. At Rexall Place, there were 24 accessible seats plus companion seats and they were only located in the four corners of the arena.
“Rexall, you could only sit in the four areas, each corner of the rink. Here you can literally sit in any section that you want,” Weeks said. “Upper bowl, lower bowl, Sportsnet lounge, Loge, you name it.
“In terms of seating options, you can’t get much better.”
There are 10 elevators in Rogers Place, up from the one elevator Rexall Place had. The lifts are also located throughout the facility to make it easier for those who need them.
“They’re conveniently located near the platform areas so that the patrons can go up or down to various levels within the facility without having to travel all the way back to the main elevator core,” Ashton said.
The stairs are equipped with nosing to make them easier to see for the visually impaired and there’s Braille on all of the signage. The Accessibility Advisory Committee also helped recommend features for the hearing impaired.
“We included some induction loop technology in a lot of the guest services areas,” Ashton said. “They can adjust a toggle on their hearing aid and go up and can actually have a transaction with the person inside the box office or the guest services area.”
The cost of the additional features was factored in during the design stage. The Accessibility Advisory Committee has been involved with the project every step of the way and the outcome is an arena everyone involved is extremely proud of.
“I know we’ve come a long way and there’s always going to be a little bit more to do but it’s an excellent example, I think, of what arenas should be today,” Ashton said.
“It’s a special moment to be able to roll the halls and see everything come to life after so many years of collaboration. It’s something that I’m really proud about. I think it’s something that the city needs to be proud about, the citizens needs to be proud about.”
All of the staff at Rogers Place have gone through specialized training to be able to assist people with a range of disabilities.