Marvel Stadium has claimed a first for Melbourne by launching a new sensory room at the venue in partnership with Joe and Renae Ingles.

The sensory room was unveiled yesterday (Monday) ahead of this week’s basketball games between Australia and USA at Marvel Stadium. The room has been launched with support from the National Basketball Players’ Association (NPBA) Foundation.

The room will act as a quiet and safe space for children and adults with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions to deregulate from sensory overload, which may be triggered during a game.

Joe Ingles is a basketball player and currently represents the Australian national team and NBA franchise the Utah Jazz, while Renae plays netball for the Melbourne Vixens and won the World Cup with Australia in 2015. Their three-year-old son Jacob was diagnosed with autism in January and the family regularly uses the sensory room at Vivint Smart Home Arena, home of the Utah Jazz.

Joe Ingles said: “It will be great knowing that Renae, Jacob and our daughter Milla are all able to watch the game in an environment where they are all comfortable. Creating a safe space for those with sensory challenges, the sensory room will help get families out of the house to enjoy events that they may have previously been unable to attend and we are proud to have worked with Marvel Stadium to bring a sensory space to the stadium.”

Renae Ingles added: “It is a milestone moment for sport in Victoria, offering more opportunities for families and the wider community who don’t want their children or friends to miss out on the experience of attending a sporting event.”

The room includes bubble tubes which stimulate the visual and auditory senses, activity panels on the walls, calming lap pads, and bean bags and comfortable seating for parents. Staff at Marvel Stadium have undergone significant training to ensure they are equipped to work in the room and manage sensory overload situations within the wider context of the venue.

Marvel Stadium is also introducing sensory bags that will include noise-cancelling headphones, fidget tools and verbal cue cards. A plaque dedicated to the Ingles family and their contribution to bringing the sensory room to Marvel Stadium will also be installed.

The room has been designed and developed by non-profit organisation KultureCity, which has partnered with a number of clubs and stadia around the world to open similar spaces. Teams that have recently launched sensory rooms in partnership with KultureCity include the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Marvel Stadium recently launched a Kids Zone to step up its provision of non-sporting activities. The stadium has also added features such as a 16m high Spider Man climbing wall and a Marvel height chart, allowing fans to compare their heights and footprints to their favourite superheroes.

Marvel Stadium chief executive Michael Green said: “We are always looking for new ways to make the stadium more fan and family-friendly and the sensory room is a significant step forward in achieving this goal and we are thrilled to partner with Joe and Renae who have helped us achieve this.

“We want Marvel Stadium to be seen as a place where anyone can come and experience an event. We hope that sensory rooms will become a mainstay feature of stadia in Australia.”

Images: Marvel Stadium