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ADVOCATE FOR DISABLED THREATENS TO STOP SUPER BOWL/Disabled activist soundly rejects Super Bowl tickets

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    ADVOCATE FOR DISABLED THREATENS TO STOP SUPER BOWL/Disabled activist soundly rejects Super Bowl tickets


    (12-20-2002) - An advocate for the disabled is threatening to seek a restraining order to stop the Super Bowl on grounds that Qualcomm Stadium is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Beverly Walker says the city of San Diego is months behind in ADA modifications agreed to when it settled a lawsuit with her in 2000.

    The modifications, allegedly supposed to have been completed in April, include adding seats with enough leg room for the disabled, lowering ticket windows by seven inches and ensuring drinking fountains are 29 inches from the floor.

    "We have a settlement agreement. It lays out certain things," said Walker. "We have been very patient. We have waited a long time. The city has not come through."

    Officials say the modifications are 98 percent complete.

    "I think we are making progress," said Steve Shushan, the stadium's assistant manager. "But it might not be as quickly as people think."

    The settlement Walker reached with the city in 2000 also calls for more than 1,000 Super Bowl tickets to be set aside for disabled fans.


    [This message was edited by Max on Dec 23, 2002 at 01:40 PM.]

    Disabled activist soundly rejects Super Bowl tickets

    Disabled activist soundly rejects Super Bowl tickets

    City's offer 'like a slap in the face,' she says

    By Norberto Santana Jr. and David Washburn

    December 22, 2002

    A disabled activist has "soundly rejected" the city's offer to give her 36 Super Bowl tickets if she releases it from part of its obligations to improve access for the disabled at Qualcomm Stadium.

    Beverly Walker contends city officials have breached a settlement concerning disabled access and says a federal magistrate will have to decide whether the Super Bowl can take place at Qualcomm on Jan. 26.

    "This is like a slap in the face to me," Walker said of the offer delivered late Friday by the San Diego City Attorney's Office. "It was unbelievable to me that the city thought it could buy off the disabled community with Super Bowl tickets."

    The City Attorney's Office did not return telephone messages asking for comment.

    Walker says the city is months behind on a series of modifications it agreed to under the 2001 settlement. The changes range from elevators and new seats for disabled fans to the height of railings in seating areas, the dimensions of restrooms and the slopes of ramps.

    City officials have said they are "98 percent complete" with the modifications. They say some of the remaining issues need to be clarified under the Americans' with Disabilities Act, and a judge may have to decide whether the city must keep working on the stadium.

    The National Football League has said Walker's issue is between her and the city, and the Super Bowl is essentially a private event that has its own ticketing policies.

    Walker's attorney, Amy Vandeveld, said she will file for a temporary restraining order early this week. If she gets a hearing date quickly and persuades the magistrate to issue the restraining order, the brouhaha could halt other stadium events, including the Chargers last home game Dec. 29 and any playoff games.

    In 1997, Walker and four other disabled activists sued the city, arguing that a $78 million stadium expansion ignored the needs of the disabled. The suit was settled in 2001 with the city agreeing to make more than $5 million in disabled access modifications by April of this year.

    Despite the city's saying it's near compliance with the settlement, Walker said dozens of inspections in recent months have revealed deficiencies in every category.

    Earlier this month, Walker threatened the city with the restraining order. That set off a series of frantic discussions between city officials, stadium staff, the San Diego Super Bowl Host Committee and the National Football League.

    Friday's offer came out of those talks. Walker said the offer makes things "even worse."

    In the offer, the city wants Walker to release it from completing a series of the modifications and cancel a court hearing on the settlement scheduled for Jan. 15. They also asked that she not pursue any legal action against the city, the Chargers or the NFL regarding the federal and state disability laws.

    Additionally, city officials want her to agree that the Super Bowl is not an "event sponsor" covered under the terms of her settlement.

    Vandeveld said that under the terms of the settlement, the city has to follow specific guidelines on making disabled seats available. More than 1,000 seats, she said, must be held for all games, including the Super Bowl, for disabled fans until 48 hours before game time. And 60 of those seats must be held through the end of the game.

    NFL officials say the settlement doesn't apply to them because the Super Bowl is basically private. Officials at the U.S. Department of Justice, which oversees the ADA, said they approve of the NFL's ticketing policies for the big game.

    Vandeveld said the city has no right to exempt the NFL.

    "They can't say, 'It's the Super Bowl's rules, not ours,' because it's the city's facility."

    The NFL vice president in charge of organizing the Super Bowl said he has been talking to the city since March about Walker's settlement and was frustrated by the city's handling of the issue.

    "This was easy to anticipate," Jim Steeg said. "We certainly talked about it over and over again."

    Norberto Santana:
    (619) 718-5069;

    Washburn: (619) 542-4582;

    Find this article at:




      (12-27-2002) - Attorneys and a judge will meet next week to confer on an activist's plan to block the Super Bowl by court order.

      Federal Magistrate Leo Papas has asked attorneys for both sides to meet January 2 to discuss whether the issue falls under his jurisdiction.

      Activist Beverly Walker said that a restraining order is necessary to persuade city officials to comply with a settlement reached a year ago that guaranteed access for the disabled at Qualcomm Stadium.

      Walker's attorney, Amy Vandeveld said that while the move may seem extreme, she has tried everything else without success to get the city to meet its obligations under the agreement.

      The city is months behind schedule on modifications to improve access to the stadium, Walker said. In 2001, the city agreed to make more than $5 million in improvements as part of a settlement in a lawsuit filed by Walker.

      The Super Bowl is scheduled for January 26 at Qualcomm Stadium.

      The issue should not affect the Chargers final game Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.


      © 2002 Midwest Television, Inc.