Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Observations from Camp Randall: UW v. Michigan State 9/26/09

All in all a pretty stellar Badger game day on Saturday. It started with me getting the chance to take my brother-in-law Ryan to his first ever Badger game at Camp Randall Stadium. I always love seeing how in awe first timers are of the whole home Badger game day experience. Then it ultimately ended with a real solid win against Michigan State, 38-30 (what the final score doesn't reveal is that it was practically a blow out). Here are my observations in between:

Observation #1: The line for the elevator was fairly long once again. See the picture just below for my view from the back of the line. The main room for the elevator is up and around the corner to the right, just in front of the person wearing the red jacket.

As I was taking this picture on my phone I overheard this gentleman behind me say: “Jeez, is the line for the elevator always this long?” I muttered to my brother-in-law, “Yeah because too many people like you try and use it instead of taking the ramps or stairs like you should.”

Observation #2: The elevator itself is pretty spacious so by the time the it got back down to the bottom level everybody in front of me was able to pile in. But it was full by the time it was my turn to get on so I was the cutoff, which lead to this interesting exchange with the elevator attendant:

Him: “Sorry, no more room for wheelchairs on this trip.”
Me, looking in to see not one person in a wheelchair or with a notable disability: “Yeah, I see that.”

Everything that was wrong with his statement was completely lost on him and everyone else already on the elevator. Again, it’s become an ‘every man for himself’ mentality with that elevator so of course no one bothered to offer to give up their spot for me and wait for the next trip. I couldn’t get my phone up quickly enough to snap a pic of the full able-bodied cart before the door closed, but while I was thinking about that missed opportunity my brolaw sent me this text: “Wasted elevator trip not one person who actually need the elevator.” Indeed.

Observation #3: When the elevator came back down I was the first one to get on. So I went to the back and spun around quickly so that I didn’t have to face the back wall the whole ride up. Then another guy in a chair came on and followed suit right in front of me. But when he backed up he came back so far that he started to smash my foot. Since I couldn’t back up any more I gave my knee a quick slap from the outside to move my foot over a bit to unjam my toes without making a scene. I only point this out because I always have much more awareness about how close me and my chair are to others. I'm over-sensitive to it in fact. So that was intriguing.

Then as the elevator door was closing there was a call from the first floor attendant: “Hold the door, we have a few more walking people that can fit.” Again, a statement lost on just about everyone else involved. And on to the elevator came a couple and their 18 month old child.

Observation #4: Somewhere in the second or third quarter of the game I overheard the following exchange between two stadium concession guys. They were leaning on the pillar in the picture below, which is directly to my left about three feet (people lean there to watch the game all the time and the security guy assigned to our section is usually much more focused on chit chatting with passersby than telling the lingerers to find their seats):

Guy 1: “So we’ve got 72 buns but only 15 more hotdogs left. So my question to you is this: can we get some more meat?”
Guy 2: “Absolutely, absolutely.”
Then they walked away, easily making for the most obscure conversation I’ve ever paid witness to at the stadium.

Observation #5: My brolaw and I stuck around for most of the Fifth Quarter since it was his first time seeing such a thing. So when we got to the elevator we had it all to ourselves at first because there was no one else waiting, which has become a rare occurence. After I pushed the button I looked up and noticed, possibly for the first time, a sign on the wall just above it that read: 'Please reserve the use of this elevator for our patrons with disabilities.' As Ryan and I both commented on the sign that same couple with their young child got in line for the ride down again. So much for reserving for people with disabilities.

I rode down at the back of the elevator cart next to a young couple. Behind me there was a combination of a slow door close and more people trying to pile on. Presumably annoyed by the waiting period the girl said to her boyfriend, “Maybe we should have just taken the stairs.” He said, “Yeah.” Yeah, indeed. Then he said, “But the stairs smell like garbage.” Hmm, so is that that why nobody seems to take the stairs around here?

Regardless, as we were leaving the stadium I decided that I needed to figure out what University of Wisconsin official I could get in contact with to get this whole situation fixed before I go to the next game. Through its clearly posted signage the stadium itself has put people on notice that the elevator should be used primarily for people with disabilities. Yet over the last two seasons it’s become obvious both that too many fans without disabilities are frequently using the elevator and also that elevator staff members are doing a very poor job making sure that people with disabilities should always get near exclusive priority use. The fact that a wheelchair user like myself routinely gets bumped for a cart full of able-bodied folks, and that I often risk missing the start of the game because of it, has become a total farce. Enough is enough.


  1. Updates? Any luck getting in contact with UW Official?


  2. I haven't contacted anyone yet, I figure the best time to do so is closer to the start of next season.