This was our fifth year at BottleRock, fourth year as a patron of ADA facilities. We are enthusiastic supporters of BottleRock and have generally appreciated the improvements over the years. But things went severely downhill for General Admission handicapped this year. The money-making “JamPAD’”now stood where the ADA platform had been (and that location was already a good distance back from the 2014 ADA platform near the main stage).
The ADA platform was reduced in size (displacing many handicapped and/or their companions) and moved a significant distance back from the main stage, with no buffer zone or controlled entrance. It sat next to the generator for the Food Garden on one side, fans and blowers to the back, and facing speakers from both the main stage and the newly enhanced Culinary stage. The noise bleed from the two stages alone often made it very difficult to hear the show on the main stage. We couldn’t see the performers on the main stage.
The huge crowd pushing from/to the main stage arena passed directly in front of us, which was not an issue in prior years because we were seated on the stage side of the entrance. We were forced to climb over/around people to get to the platform. People set up camp surrounding the platform, leaning on it and pushing those on the platform back from the edges. Day 2 brought a small gated buffer zone and a security guard, but still no controlled entrance. Day 3 brought an expanded gated buffer zone and controlled entrance, so that entrance/exit was relatively safe and handicapped patrons who could not fit on the platform or wanted to lie on a blanket had a safe place to be.
The closest ADA port-a-potties were housed along with the general population port-a-potties and were unmonitored and poorly maintained. Accessing any ADA bathroom facility from the main stage required traversing uneven terrain through long vendor lines and large crowds in the arena and around the Culinary Stage. In addition, the designated ADA bathrooms for the main stage were at the far end of the arena beyond the rows of non-ADA port-a-potties, making it near impossible to navigate those waiting in line for the non-ADA facilities.
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There was no safe option at any time, certainly not for anyone who was unsteady on their feet or on crutches. It is not surprising that our daughter and a woman sitting behind us were both injured on trips to the bathroom. All ADA stages should have dedicated facilities with safe access at all times, not just when crowds thin out (which rarely happened).
I tried reaching out to Latitude 38 during the concert, but was very disappointed. The impression I got: We will do the absolute minimum to satisfy ADA requirements, since this is only GA seating. We will displace ADA attendees in favor of profit, like moving the ADA platform to a less than desirable location.
Since our daughter has become wheelchair bound, BottleRock is one of the major high points of the year for her and us. BottleRock is our Christmas present for each other. We cannot afford the upgraded tickets (wish we could). But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be safe, allowed full enjoyment of the event, and treated with respect and dignity at all times. I am appealing to Dave Graham, Justin Dragoo and Jason Scoggins to shift their attitude and make things right for ALL of their patrons and vigorously address all ADA guidelines.