Derrick Jones drove seven hours to see Metallica’s last North American tour stop in Edmonton Wednesday night.
The 28-year-old from Fort St. John, B.C., ended up not seeing much at all.
Since Jones uses a wheelchair, his ticket was in the designated accessible seating at Commonwealth Stadium. As soon as the fans in front of him stood up, his view was blocked for the entire concert.
“We got to the show and one of the first bands was still playing. I could see fine,” Jones said. “But when Metallica started, that’s when more people started coming in and then when they started to play, that’s when everyone started to stand. I couldn’t see at all.
“Mad, sad. I felt a whole bunch of emotions all at once.”
Jones said another accessible seating area nearby was more elevated, but it was full.
Most frustrating was “the failure of anyone to really accommodate us,” he said. “The usher didn’t really do anything.”
Jones posted a photo of his view for the concert on reddit and thousands have commented. Another man who uses a wheelchair and sat in the same area complained that his view was completely blocked, too.
Jones said his experience at other concerts in newer venues is usually positive, with seating options that are higher above general seating.
“For the most part, in newer buildings, it’s never a problem… For renovations, if they can at least fix these areas, that would be great.”
Jones has Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy. He was born with the progressive neuromuscular disease and has had a wheelchair since he was 15, using it full-time for the past decade.
He’s heading home to B.C. Thursday, disappointed.
“I’m a big Metallica fan. I’ve been listening since about 2003, my dad’s been listening since before I was born… It meant quite a bit.
“I was pretty sick in bed for a couple of years with my disability so it was finally nice to get out. It’s my first concert in about three years.
“The sound was really good at least. It was loud, the energy was good. I’m still happy I went but it would have been nice to see it.”
The City of Edmonton owns and operates Commonwealth Stadium. City staff have yet to respond to interview requests. However, Global News did speak to Coun. Mike Nickel who looked at the picture posted and said, “Obviously it didn’t work for them and it should have.”
Nickel says sometimes it takes complaints like this for the city to start working on problems. He’s open to changes.
“Perhaps elevated platforms are required and some updating would be necessary. The pictures speak for themselves,” Nickel said. “So if it isn’t working, then obviously you’re going to have to fix it.”
Commonwealth Stadium has just recently had millions of dollars in renovations done.
In 2013, the city finished replacing every seat in the facility at a cost of $11.9 million. The Jumbo-tron was upgraded for $5.3 million and $1.9 million was spent on upgrades to the visitor’s locker rooms.
— With files from Fletcher Kent