A lawsuit brought by a disabled Cubs fan several years ago regarding accessible seating at Wrigley Field has been resolved in the Cubs’ favor, per Robert Channick at the Tribune:
The decision follows a one-week April trial, and comes nearly six years after Chicago attorney David A. Cerda filed a lawsuit against the team on behalf of his son, David F. Cerda, a lifelong Cubs fan who is confined to a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy. The lawsuit alleged the extensive Wrigley rebuild did not provide enough accessible seating to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Wrigley Field, which has 39,510 seats, is required to have at least 209 accessible seats, according to ADA standards. The judge ruled the Cubs hit the magic number — with at least one seat to spare.
There “are at least 210 accessible seats at Wrigley Field — one more than the required minimum,” U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso wrote in his decision. “Although Plaintiff’s situation is unfortunate, he fails to prove that the Defendant violated the ADA.”
Last summer, when this lawsuit received some publicity, I walked all around Wrigley Field and counted the number of accessible seats. Here’s the article I wrote at the time, along with my count of accessible seating in the lower deck:
Here are the number of seats in each of the ADA sections in the lower deck. I have grouped them, because as you can see in the photos, that’s how these sections are grouped in the ballpark.
That’s 279 accessible seats in the lower deck. Per this ada.gov link, that’s more than sufficient for Wrigley Field (emphasis added):
Wheelchair accessible seating is required. At least one percent of the seating must be wheelchair seating locations.
While I didn’t post information about upper deck accessible seating last year, the Cubs added some over the winter in that location. This photo, taken January 13, shows one area where that seating was added in the upper deck:
More from the Tribune article:
In his 2017 lawsuit, Cerda alleged many of the accessible seats were among the “worst views” in the ballpark, too small, not properly dispersed and relegated disabled patrons to isolated areas. The judge, who visited Wrigley Field during the April trial, took a different view of the ballpark’s accessible seating.
“The site visit impressed upon the Court the variety of locations and views on offer for patrons who require accessible seating, as well as that ‘friendly confines’ feeling that is unique to Wrigley Field,” Alonso said in his ruling.
Cubs spokesperson Julian Green said in a statement that the team was “grateful for today’s decision and its validation of our belief we followed accessibility guidelines throughout the 1060 Project.”
I agree with the judge’s statement, as shown by the photos in my article from last summer. There’s a lot more accessible seating since the renovation was completed and the views and locations are actually better than they were previously. Cerda says he’s going to appeal the ruling, but I doubt that gets very far. More from Channick’s article:
An apostate Cubs fan, Cerda sat with his son some 15 rows behind home plate for many years. Those seats were moved farther away from the field during the course of the renovation, Cerda said.
After tangling with the team in court, the senior Cerda abandoned the Cubs in 2019, diverging with his son.
“I will never go to another Cubs game as long as I live,” Cerda said. “The plaintiff is continuing to go to Cubs games.”
I know where those seats were that he’s talking about. Yes, they’re somewhat farther away, but give views that are comparable, if not better. The elder Cerda is certainly welcome to not go to another Cubs game, but he’s only hurting himself.
Lastly, Channick’s article says there’s still a different ADA lawsuit regarding Wrigley Field pending in federal court:
The Cubs still face legal challenges to Wrigley’s ADA compliance. Last year, the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago filed a lawsuit alleging the team failed to make Wrigley “appropriately accessible” to fans who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities. That lawsuit is ongoing in Chicago federal court.
Based on what I found last summer in checking out the accessible facilities placed in Wrigley Field, I don’t think that suit has merit either and I believe the Cubs will win that one as well. As always, we await developments.