by: Catherine Varnum Updated:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A local mother is questioning the wheelchair seating at Everbank Field.
James Russell is a football fanatic and the Jags are his favorite team.
But his mom, Lisa Russell, says they've had a problem getting tickets to the games this year. "I tried to get Steeler tickets, and there were none. I tried Giants tickets and there were none," said Russell.
James has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around. "We can't just sit in any seat in the stadium," said Russell.
His mom questioned where all the seats went, then remembered all the stadium upgrades. In 2008, the Department of Justice came in and cited the city of Jacksonville for not meeting ADA standards. Then, there were 194 handicapped accessible seats in the stadium. Now, after the current renovations, there are even fewer seats, just 134. The head of the city's disabled services division tells Action News the goal is to have 346 seats by the end of 2016. "We know there's a deficit and we are addressing it," said Beth Meyer.
Meyer says they added 13 seats last week. But there's another obstacle they still have to address. "We have to disperse the seats all around the stadium," said Meyer.
EverBank Field isn't the only building with problems. Last year, we told you about the city's $5.5 million settlement with the Department of Justice to get the city up to code. A year in, we went to find out what has been done.
"The first year is a lot of policy," said Meyer.
We asked her to get specific on the changes.
"Signage, making sure the door pressures are correct, and that automatic door openers were installed," said Meyer.
We're told problems with the pressure with the new courthouse doors are also fixed. But getting sidewalks across the city up to code, Meyer says won't be a fast fix. "That's huge. Five to six years to add ramps," said Meyer.
The Jags Senior Vice President of Communications Dan Edwards told us over the phone, there are seats available and doesn't know why Russell was told otherwise.
Now the city is making a promise to this family. "We will get her those tickets," said Russell.
Russell just hopes it's a promise they keep for her son. "He just loves the atmosphere of the games," said Russell.
The city says its also looking for grants to help pay for some of the fixes.