Some of you might have heard about my Disney World woes, time for another round, Barclays Center.
The Barclays Center, located in Brooklyn, NY, opened in September of 2012. You’d think this would mean they’d have all the best/latest in accommodations for the disabled. You’d be wrong.
I bought 4, general admission, floor tickets for Nine Inch Nails. After all the usual fees and taxes, they were $114 per ticket. You can see from the seating chart I screencapped on the Barclays website that it shows an ADA handicapped accessible section on the floor, near the front (the little blue dots). I also screencapped the only seating charts they have posted. There is nothing specified saying “standing room only” end stage or “seated” end stage (meaning everyone is in chairs).
When my friends and I arrived at the concert we had a Barclays employee escort us up an elevator and through some behind-the-scenes areas to get to the floor with my motorized scooter. And then we were halted. The employee wasn’t sure exactly where to take us and spoke with a few others to find out. Turns out, they didn’t have an ADA section on the floor. Which is weird because their “Disabled Services A to Z Guide" says:
- Barclays Center provides wheelchair and companion seating with appropriate sight lines on all levels.
Appropriate site lines is the important phrase here. There were none. And they basically said we could just stay in the general area away from the crowd. Which, ok, great. But sitting in my scooter, watching the opening act, Godspeed You! Black Emperor (who were awesome live), I could just barely see the musicians. This was not going to work for NIN at all.
The employees told me we couldn’t stay behind a row of barricades on the floor because it needed to be clear for people to walk. Even though there were staircases we could have stayed next to where we’d be completely out of the walkway. It was around this point NIN’s Josh Eustis saw what was happening and came over to see if he could help (I just about died.) He asked me where I wanted to be and I replied with, “As close as possible.” He talked with a guy named Jamie working the front of house (a barred off area with sound/light crew etc) who then tried to make space for us to sit in there. We would have been protected from any pit nonsense but the site line would still be completely blocked in that area too.
The employees didn’t really have an explanation for why there was no raised area for wheelchairs. I told them Madison Square Garden has one and since they are much newer there’s no reason they shouldn’t. They cited “safety concerns,” which again, makes no sense because MSG was able to make a safe area. Then a manager finally came over and told me it was the band’s decision to not have a handicapped section on the floor.
Something tells me that’s not correct.
Either way, the manager offered to seat us in the only available ADA section which was between the 20s and 100s section you can see on the map. Sorry, I didn’t pay $114 a head to not get the same experience everyone else did in general admission.
I said we’d stay on the floor where we were, far back from the crowd so they wouldn’t be an issue, and the manager then told me they weren’t stopping me from going closer. To which I looked at her and said, “I’m not going to put myself in danger. I know what a NIN pit is like.” And she said, “Well I just want to be clear we’re not stopping you.” As if that would help them if I went to complain after the fact.
Long story short, I cried twice at the show last night: once when I realized I wouldn’t be able to see anything and once when they played “Hurt.” Because, well, <3 NIN.
I tweeted several times at both @BarclaysCenter and nineinchnails on Twitter but didn’t get a reply. I’ll be emailing my experience and concerns to the Barclays Center directly in the hopes they can rectify the situation with me and help to make sure this doesn’t ruin others’ experiences in the future.