Accessibility and parking questions loom for fans ahead of Austin FC home opener Saturday

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — With less than a week until the Austin FC season home opener, Harry Jarvis and his wife couldn’t be more excited.

“My wife and I are both big fans,” he said.

That excitement, however, is quickly becoming uncertainty and worry about the parking plan for game day.

“I started looking for parking information for how I get handicap accessible parking, and that’s when I ran into trouble,” Jarvis said. “I just sort of didn’t know where to look.”

These are new questions for the couple, as his wife recently began using a wheelchair after experiencing chronic pain and undergoing a back surgery that makes walking difficult and painful. So, Jarvis logged onto the team’s website for clarity on reserved and accessible parking, but couldn’t find a clear answer.

“We think our 850 spaces is a really good sweet-spot, and it allows for this multimodal transportation plan.”

Andy Loughnane, Austin FC President
Harry Jarvis and his wife, Gillian, pictured on Lake Austin. (Photo provided by: Harry Jarvis)

He spoke with a team official on the phone who assured him there would be accessible parking offsite through the third-party vendor they have contracted with, called Pavemint. He was also told there may be a shuttle to the stadium, but Jarvis has yet to be able to find the exact details.

“I don’t know where it drops off in relationship to where we are sitting. I don’t know if it’s on the exact opposite side of the stadium or right next to it or if there’s multiple stops,” he said.

Jarvis went on to say, “I think that there are probably a lot of people in a situation similar to mine who are going through a lot of confusion and would like some answers before the game.”

Austin FC president talks accessibility

According to legal requirements, all parking lots must contain a certain amount of accessible spots for every parking spot. Those spots must also fit certain dimensional requirements.

“Is it wide enough? Is there an overhang that would block a wheelchair lift?” explained Brian East, an attorney for Disability Rights Texas. “Is it on an uneven surface? Is it too slanted, so that when you set your wheelchair down beside it, it starts rolling away?”

ADA Guidelines for Accessible Parking
ADA Guidelines for Accessible Parking

For every 25 or 50 spots added, another accessible spot is required. If there are over 500 spots, the law requires 2% of the parking to be accessible.

Andy Loughnane, president of Austin FC, ensured KXAN their on-site lots are ADA compliant. However, those lots only contain around 850 parking spots to begin with, and those spots — including the accessible ones — sold out fast to season ticket holders.

That’s why they partnered with Pavemint to provide nearly 5,000 more parking spots off-site at buildings and businesses within a mile of the stadium. Loughnane said in the long run, this approach may even be better than more parking around the stadium.

“It spaces the traffic out, as opposed to having it all on-site. There are a lot of stadiums that have thousands of parking spaces on-site, which doesn’t lead to great ingress or egress,” he said. “We think our 850 spaces is a really good sweet-spot, and it allows for this multimodal transportation plan.”

Loughnane confirmed there would be a shuttle transporting fans from the Pavemint lots and spots to the front of the stadium, and he noted it would be ADA compliant and accessible for everyone.

East said he’s not still not surprised families with mobility impairments want specific details on transportation plans in advance.

“For many people, walking a mile is perhaps not a big deal, but for a lot of people who use wheelchairs, it may be very difficult. It may even be impossible to do, and it may even be damaging,” he said.

After spending a few minutes searching on the Austin FC website, he told KXAN he had similar concerns as Jarvis about the information regarding accessible parking. However, he noted that more often than not with new buildings and structures, the accommodations are there — it’s just communication that proves to be a barrier.

“It is really important because it can take a long time to find an accessible entrance, the elevators, the parking places, and you don’t want people driving around just looking for them,” he said.

Loughnane said the Q2 Stadium was designed to be an inclusive event space, which is why accessibility needs were considered throughout the development process.

The Austin FC site details how ramps sit around the stadium’s exterior to help with elevation. Elevators are available, it says, and the concourse itself was designed at-grade and with ease of mobility in mind.

Fans can also access closed captioning services, check out assisted listening devices from the Guest Services booth, and watch from a specialized Sensory Room. Q2 Stadium staff will also provides wheelchair escort services at every event, available on a first come, first served basis.

CapMetro is offering light rail and bus options, with increased frequency designated drop off points near the stadium. Their spokesperson told KXAN anyone with limited mobility can get a reservation for door-to-door service to and from the game, with drop off and pick-up right beside the stadium through Metro Access. Fans do need to be registered client, so you can see if you eligible here

“I’m assuming this was planned for… but that the executing and communicating the information out to the public is where it’s failed.”

Harry Jarvis, fan asking for more clear communication regarding accessible parking

Even with these options and accommodations, Loughnane said they were open to feedback and would be evaluating the transportation plan, in particular, throughout the season.

“As with any project of this scale and this magnitude, modifications will almost certainly be needed to make improvements. We want to make consistent improvements,” he said. “It’s in our collective interest to listen and continuously enhance.”

Other transportation options

Loughnane said they encourage all fans to arrive early and pre-plan their “arrival strategy.”

They are encouraging people to take a look at the transportation options available to fans.

Austin FC offers a Bike Valet system, available on the east side of the stadium, for those who want to ride a bicycle to the game. The stadium will also have two locations for rideshare pick-up and drop-off to accommodate Uber and Lyft customers.

  • If you have questions about accessibility, contact GuestServices@AustinFC.com, text 35-ASK-VERDE (35-275-83733), or click here.
  • To access the Pavemint app for parking, click here.
  • For more parking maps and in-depth info from Austin FC, click here.

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Austin FC Upcoming Games

 

  • June 23 at Minnesota United FC
  • June 27 vs. Columbus Crew
  • July 2 vs. Portland Timbers
  • July 7 vs. Los Angeles FC
  • July 22 vs. Seattle Sounders

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