English Premier League football club Bournemouth has taken the first step to become fully compliant with the league’s disability access standards at Vitality Stadium, the team’s home ground.
The first block of changes has already started with the club taking a staged approach to the work. Bournemouth is looking to have the ground become fully compliant by the 2020-21 season.
New elevated positions are being created for wheelchair users and their personal assistants during this summer’s work period. Other improvements being made at Vitality Stadium include increasing and enhancing accessible signage, adding automatic doors to the main reception and the Superstore, and an undercover drop-off zone being created.
In addition, relevant staff have undergone further disability awareness training, along with more disability-focused stewards being allocated where needed.
Future changes include a new position for four wheelchair users and four personal assistants in the East Stand, as well the same additions in the away section.
The East Stand will also see its current wheelchair positions on the elevated platforms increase from eight to 10, while platforms in the North Stand will add handrails and marked bays.
Twenty-one wheelchair users and 21 personal assistants will have a new position in what is currently the hospitality seating for the Top Floor Restaurant.
Due to these structural changes, 64 season ticket holders in the East Stand and Main Stand will be affected, along with 118 hospitality seats. Meanwhile, hospitality guests will be moved to upgraded seating in the Main Stand where season ticket holders do not currently occupy 90 per cent of the seats.
“We have taken these measures following consultation with our Disabled Focus Group, as well as the Safety Advisory Group,” said Bournemouth’s disabled access officer, Alice Jeans.
“Meeting the disability access commitments in full will prove extremely challenging, given the structural and logistical nature of Vitality Stadium, which is not owned by the club. However, this work will increase elevated wheelchair positions by 31, to 41 positions, which meets more than 50 per cent of the current requirement under the Accessible Stadia Guide.
“We have done everything we can to keep disruption to a minimum and have contacted all season ticket holders and hospitality clients affected, to work with them and find the best possible alternative seating. Spaces on the platforms will be allocated on a match-by-match basis to ensure all disabled supporters get to use the elevated positions.”
Image: Matthew Jackson