Client – Memphis Grizzlies

Year – 2001

Problem – Making an existing arena ADA compliant while addressing conflicting stakeholder needs and concerns.

Problem details – When the Vancouver Grizzlies (NBA) moved to Memphis, Tennessee, they planned to play two seasons in the existing Pyramid Arena while a new $240 million venue was being constructed. The Grizzlies were immediately challenged to address a 1990 federal court decree – the result of litigation against the owners of the Pyramid Arena that alleged lack of access for people with disabilities.

The problem was a complex one:

  • Though the court decree called for wheelchair seating around the floor – the most expensive seating category in the arena at $500 per seat, it did not require any interior construction that would allow for dispersed seating for patrons with disabilities nor address ticket pricing;
  • Essentially, the decree segregated the disabled into one area of the arena and discriminated against them from a pricing perspective;
  • In addition, the Grizzlies realized that in implementing this court decree, they stood to loose millions of dollars in floor seating revenues as wheelchair floor spaces could not be sold to nondisabled patrons until all other nondisabled seats were sold. In this 20,000-seat arena, this rarely happened.

McGuire Associates, Inc. Solution:

  • Identified architectural improvement to meet ADA guidelines;
  • Held ongoing meetings with all stakeholders;
  • Addressed the needs of all parties involved and mediated a successful agreement.

Solution details – McGuire Associates, Inc. was retained to renegotiate the 1990 court decree and address local issues that lead to the court order. McGuire Associates, Inc. action steps included:

  • Built on the momentum provided by the Grizzles’ move to Memphis to push for arena improvements;
  • Met with/mediated discussions with all of the parties involved, including the Grizzlies, the city and town governments, the University of Memphis and the Paralyzed Veterans Association;
  • Forged an agreement that addressed:
    • dispersion of seating
    • proper sightlines
    • ticket pricing
    • additional seating for non-disabled patrons
    • arena improvements to meet ADA guidelines for pre-existing buildings.

Outcome – McGuire Associates, Inc. renegotiated the court decree and successfully gained win-win modifications. Individuals with disabilities gained seating dispersion and ticket pricing options; the Grizzlies gained critical seating for nondisabled patrons and increased revenues by millions of dollars.

Outcome details – In renegotiating the 1990 federal court decree, McGuire Associates, Inc. gained important concessions for the Grizzlies and for patrons with disabilities.

Individuals with disabilities gained dispersed seating around the stadium with comparable sightlines of the action on the floor. They also gained pricing options.

The Grizzlies gained critical space around the floor to put folding chairs for non-disabled patrons, increasing the organization’s ticket revenues by millions of dollars.

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