United Center to cater for fans with sensory needs

KultureCity has continued its drive to make major-league arenas more sensory inclusive by partnering with Chicago’s United Center.

KultureCity is a non-profit organisation that focuses on aiding individuals with sensory needs and already holds partnerships with a number of US venues, including T-Mobile Arena, Spectrum Center, Bridgestone Arena, Progressive Field and PNC Arena.

United Center, home to NBA basketball team the Chicago Bulls and NHL ice hockey franchise the Chicago Blackhawks, becomes the first sports and entertainment venue in the city to be certified as sensory inclusive.

The arena will now better serve people with sensory symptoms, including children and adults with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. Arena staff have been trained by leading medical professionals to recognise guests with sensory needs and properly handle a sensory overload situation.

Front-office staff with the Blackhawks and Bulls have also received training as part of the arena’s certification process.

United Center will now offer sensory bags containing noise-cancelling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads at every event. Bags can be picked up at guest relations booths, with a designated quiet room also set to be made available to guests.

“We are proud to officially become certified as a sensory inclusive arena in Chicago and to be able to create an accommodating and positive experience for all guests and fans with sensory challenges,” said Joe Myhra, senior vice-president of operations and administration at United Center.

“As we continue to evolve the building and its experiences, our guests and their safety are always top priority. Becoming certified is one major step in our efforts to continually elevate the guest experience.”

Last week, United Center revealed plans for a state-of-the-art new scoreboard that is set to become the largest for a facility that hosts both NBA and NHL games. The scoreboard, along with a fully immersive arena audio system, will debut for the start of the 2019-20 campaign.

Image: Chicago Bulls