Music News

Red Rocks Wheelchair Access Discrimination Lawsuit Settled

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Red Rocks Amphitheatre CMHOF
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado has reached a settlement with the City of Denver, Live Nation, AEG and PBS12 over a discrimination claim made by six plaintiffs through the Department of Justice regarding wheelchair-accessible seating at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. In its investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office found that the city, which owns and operates the venue through Denver Arts & Venues, had violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by "charging more for wheelchair-accessible seats than was allowed under ADA regulations."

The settlement requires Denver to refund the $47,950.90 in overcharges on a total of 1,817 tickets for 178 events. The concert promoters have also paid a civil penalty to the U.S., according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"The Red Rocks Amphitheatre team has worked closely with the Department of Justice, AXS and our promoter partners to review the pricing of tickets for accessible seating in 2018 and 2019. The review revealed that some of these tickets were not in line with the pricing ratio required by the ADA and has resulted in refunds to approximately 200 buyers ranging between approximately $7 and $80 for a total of approximately $40,000. Going forward, all the parties have agreed that accessible seats will be priced at the lowest price designated for each show to avoid any miscalculations on the required pricing ratio under the ADA," says Denver Arts & Venues marketing and communications specialist Ben Heinemann.

The class-action lawsuit, which was filed on December 2, 2016, asserted that Red Rocks discriminated against wheelchair-users because they had to pay more for tickets and were not provided the same access and service as able-bodied patrons. The plaintiffs were represented by the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition and Disability Law Colorado, among other organizations.

There are only 121 wheelchair-accessible seats at Red Rocks, in two rows: the first row and the final row. Frustrations only grew when those tickets, which were already hard enough to acquire, were picked up by scalpers.

Kalyn Heffernan, one of the plaintiffs, spoke with Westword shortly after the lawsuit was filed, and explained the difficulties and lengths to which wheelchair users had to go to enjoy a show at the iconic venue. “Most of the staff wants to accommodate me," she said. "It’s just that the higher-ups are threatening their jobs."

Denver Arts & Venues responded to the lawsuit by implementing a new ticketing system in February 2018, which requires that those who purchase front-row tickets verify their need for accessible seating, and that seats in the first four rows be occupied by the people who purchased the tickets.
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Emily Ferguson is Westword's Culture Editor, covering Denver's flourishing arts and music scene. Before landing this position, she worked as an editor at local and national political publications and held some odd jobs suited to her odd personality, including selling grilled cheese sandwiches at music festivals and performing with fire. Emily also writes on the arts for the Wall Street Journal and is an oil painter in her free time.
Contact: Emily Ferguson