Chuck Tishgart loves baseball. Despite living with ALS, known commonly as Lou Gehrig’s disease, he had managed cheer on the Marlins season after season at Sun Life Stadium.
After attending the Marlins’ exhibition game against the University of Miami, though, he thinks maneuvering around the new ballpark in his motorized wheelchair might prove to be tough. He couldn’t find a ramp to get out of the garage.
“We went into the lot and found a place to park and went down the elevator. And, lo and behold, there were no ramps,” said Tishgart’s wife, Esta.
While there are yellow ramps for people in wheelchairs to roll onto the ballpark promenade, the Tishgarts could not find corresponding ramps on the garage side to roll off across the street.
“There was a curb there,” Tishgart said.
“A motorized wheelchair can't go down a curb,” added his wife.
Despite repeated requests, the Marlins organization has not yet commented on the matter.
On Wednesday, the organization told Miami city officials that Local 10 cameras were not allowed inside the property.
The Marlins did, however, invite media inside ballpark property on Tuesday when a fleet of electric cars was unveiled.
Over the phone, a project manager for the city, Robert Fenton, said there are ample ramps with crosswalks on each corner of the ballpark. Those ramps are approved under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
One of those ramps that Tishgart would have used, however, was blocked by construction fencing. Fenton said all the ramps should be accessible by opening day.
The Tishgarts believe that’s still not enough.
“It made me say, well, I don't want to go back. But Chuck's a fan. And he wants to go, so likely we will. But it was a horrible experience,” Tishgart’s wife said.
“I’m very frustrated because I paid for the stadium,” said Tishgart.