FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 1997

CR (202) 616-2777 TDD (202) 514-1888

MISSISSIPPI COLISEUM TO BECOME ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One of the largest coliseums in Mississippi, which hosts conventions, graduation ceremonies, and concerts, will improve access to people with disabilities under an agreement reached today with the Justice Department. The Mississippi Fair Commission, a state organization which operates the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, has agreed to take steps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including adding more accessible seating and parking at the facility and training the staff on the law. "Thanks to today's agreement, people with disabilities will have improved access to many important events in their community," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Isabelle Katz Pinzler. "We hope the owners and operators of other facilities like the Mississippi Coliseum will take notice of today's agreement and ensure that they too are complying with the ADA." The Justice Department's investigation resulted from a complaint alleging that the Coliseum did not have enough seats available for wheelchair users. The Justice Department determined that while the Coliseum could seat nearly 10,000 people, it only provided eight seats for people who use wheelchairs, and did not have accessible restrooms, parking spaces or concessions. Under the ADA, newly built or altered coliseums, arenas and stadiums must designate 1% of seats as wheelchair accessible, and ensure that the width and slope of parking spaces allow for safe and accessible access to building entrances. As a result of today's agreement, the state will: ensure that enough accessible seating areas are provided and that they are dispersed throughout the facility;

renovate concession stands so that people who use wheelchairs will be able to purchase goods; make restrooms accessible and ensure that the appropriate signs are installed throughout the building (for example, directing spectators to accessible bathrooms or elevators); provide a sufficient number of parking spaces designated for people with disabilities, and ensure that there are clear routes of access into the Coliseum; create ticketing policies that provide people with disabilities an equal opportunity to purchase tickets and allow their companions to sit with them; train staff on the requirements of the ADA and provide materials describing the Fair Commission's obligations under the ADA; and, appoint and train ADA Coordinators to assist people with disabilities with questions or problems. Most of these renovations have already been completed as part of an ongoing renovation project, and the balance will be completed within 180 days. The Department of Justice is currently investigating other arenas across the country. The ADA requires public entities to make their services, programs and activities accessible to people with disabilities. For further information, members of the public can call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line. The hotline was established by Attorney General Janet Reno as a part of a nationwide campaign to educate the public about the ADA. The number is 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD). The Justice Department also has established an ADA home page on the World Wide Web at: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm ### 97-479