A disability advocacy center filed a lawsuit against the Chicago White Sox for discriminatory ticket sale practices this week, alleging that the team violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Access Living, a Chicago-based disability and advocacy center, filed the lawsuit with the Chicago law firm Much Shelist, P.C. on September 13 at U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The suit is on behalf of Ralph Yaniz and Douglas McCormick, two plaintiffs with disabilities. Yaniz, who is the former regional president for the AARP, and McCormick, a longtime White Sox season ticket holder who worked for the scaffolding company that helped construct Guaranteed Rate Field, just want one thing: equal rights as able-bodied ticketholders.
According to a press release, the suit alleges that the White Sox refuse to sell ADA-accessible season tickets on their website. Instead of easily purchasing seats that they’d like, disabled fans have to call the box office and choose seats over the phone, where they are offered fewer options than the website. Additionally, the suit said there are restrictions on the team’s site of accessible single-game tickets. Only a small amount of accessible seats are for sale, and when they are available, they’re limited to certain areas of the venue — like the outfield or upper deck.
According to Chicago’s Daily Herald, the White Sox’s attendance has taken a sharp decline; during Wednesday’s game against the Royals, the Sox’s attendance was down 273,832 from the same point last year.
“During a season where the White Sox have been historically bad and large swaths of seats at the ballpark remain empty, the White Sox have continued to engage in practices that discriminate against individuals with disabilities who wish to attend games,” the suit reads.
McCormick has been a season ticket holder for years, however, he now needs mobility assistance. He said that he tried to change his seats to accessible, but was told that he couldn’t. Instead, he was forced to buy inaccessible seats and then transfer them to wheelchair-accessible seats the day-of the game.
“Imagine helping in the construction of the home stadium for your team and being told you can’t buy season tickets to go to games there,” McCormick said in the release. “Well, that’s exactly what the White Sox told me after decades of supporting them.”
Similarly, Yaniz also needs mobility assistance, but when he tried to find accessible tickets online, he found his options were limited, calling it “outrageous for aging and disabled fans like me to be treated this way.”
“Accessible seats should be open to those who need them in every section of the ballpark,” Yaniz said.
The suit is asking the court to declare that by not listing all unsold accessible seats, as well as limiting single-day accessible seats to certain areas of the park, violates the ADA. It is also asking the White Sox to offer accessible season tickets on its website and through all other methods of purchase and asking that all unsold wheelchair-accessible seating is available for purchase at the same time as non-accessible seats — in every area of the White Sox Park.
Yaniz and McCormick are not seeking monetary damages — they are simply just asking for the same, equal access to tickets as other fans.
Much Shelist Principal Steven Blonder noted in the release that “disabled people deserve to enjoy the same passions as everyone else.”
“Baseball is America’s game and with the White Sox’s long legacy in Chicago and the team’s variety of fans, the White Sox should want every one of them – including those with disabilities – to be able to enjoy a game,” Blonder said.
The White Sox released a statement regarding the lawsuit:
“We are disappointed by this lawsuit as the White Sox always hope to accommodate the needs of all our fans at the ballpark. The White Sox comply with all legal requirements and provide significant accessible seating at our games for our guests. We strongly believe that White Sox baseball is for everyone. While litigation is pending, we will not have any additional comment.”
Read the full class action complaint here.
Last Updated on September 15, 2023