THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
PALACE SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT, LLC,
THE PALACE OF AUBURN HILLS
I. BACKGROUND AND JURISDICTION
- This matter was initiated as a result of complaints filed under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§12181-12189, with the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, a component of the United States Department of Justice ("United States"), alleging that The Palace of Auburn Hills ("The Palace"), a sports and entertainment stadium venue located at 6 Championship Drive, Auburn Hills, Michigan 48326, was in violation of the ADA, because it contained physical barriers to accessibility.
- The United States Department of Justice is authorized under 42 U.S.C. §12188(b)(1)(A) to investigate the allegations of the complaints in this matter to determine the compliance of The Palace with title III of the ADA, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§12181-12189, and its implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. Part 36, including the ADA Standards for Accessible Design published in September 2010, ("the 2010 Standards"), issue findings, and where appropriate, negotiate and secure a voluntary compliance agreement. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. §12188(b)(1)(B) to bring a civil action enforcing title III of the ADA should the Department of Justice fail to secure voluntary compliance.
- The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and Palace Sports and Entertainment, LLC, ("PSE"), the owner and operator of The Palace.
- Title III of the ADA bans discrimination against persons with disabilities by owners or operators of places of public accommodation, 42 U.S.C. §12182(a), and establishes an ongoing requirement by such owners and operators to, among other things: remove architectural barriers to access where such removable is "readily achievable," id. at §12182(b)(2)(A)(iv), 28 C.F.R. §36.304; provide alternative methods to make goods and services available where it is deemed not readily achievable to remove barriers, 42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(2)(A)(v), 28 C.F.R. §36.305; make required alterations to facilities readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities to the maximum extent feasible, 42 U.S.C. §12183(a)(2), 28 C.F.R. §3604.402-404; provide appropriate and necessary auxiliary aids and services, 42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(2)(A)(iii), 28 C.F.R. §36.303; and reasonably modify policies and practices so as to ensure "full and equal enjoyment" of their goods and services by individuals with disabilities, 42 U.S.C. §12182(a) and (b)(2)(A)(ii), 28 C.F.R. §§36.201-202.
- The Palace is a "place of public accommodation" within the meaning of title III of the ADA, because it is a "stadium, or other place of exhibition entertainment." 42 U.S.C. §12181(7)(C); 28 C.F.R. §36.104(3). PSE, as the owner and operator of The Palace, is also a public accommodation within the meaning of the ADA. 28 C.F.R. §36.104.
- The Palace is an existing facility originally constructed prior to the effective date of the ADA, and so is subject to the "readily achievable" barrier removal provisions of the ADA at 42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(2)(iv)-(v) and 28 C.F.R. §36.304. However, portions of the facility were altered after January 26, 1992, and those portions should have been altered in such a manner that they are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. §12183(a).
- The United States investigated the complaints it received and also initiated a compliance review of The Palace, pursuant to the Attorney General's authority under 42 U.S.C. §12188(b).
- The United States reviewed architectural plans and other information provided by PSE, and conducted a site visit of The Palace on August 26-27, 2010. The results of the site visit, which were shared with PSE, revealed a number of architectural barriers to access in and around the Palace. 42 U.S.C. §12182(a); 28 C.F.R. §36.201(a).
- The United States used the 1991 Standards to identify what constituted an architectural barrier, see 28 C.F.R. §36.304, but any remedies for the identified barriers implemented by the Palace under this Agreement shall be in compliance with the 2010 Standards. Id.
- Since receiving a notice of this investigation, PSE has cooperated with the United States throughout the investigation and with requests to remove barriers to access where it was readily achievable to do so.
- The parties agree that the settlement of this matter and entry of this Agreement does not constitute an admission of any violation, liability or wrongdoing by PSE. The parties enter into this Agreement in the spirit of cooperation, and in furtherance of their shared commitment to accessibility and to the ADA.
II. ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN BY PALACE SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT, LLC:
- In the time since PSE was first notified of barriers to access at the Palace, PSE has corrected many of the barriers identified in the United States' site survey referenced in paragraph 8 above, including improving accessibility in restrooms on all levels, improving accessibility and service in restaurants and concession stands, adding additional signage, providing additional assistive listening devices, relocating and improving accessible parking areas, adding ramps and handrails along accessible routes, and remodeling dressing rooms and locker rooms.
- In order to fully resolve this matter, PSE agrees to take the following additional steps to remove barriers to access according to the deadlines stated below. For actions that have no specific deadline, PSE shall commence them as soon as practicable but no later than October 1, 2013, and shall continue for as long as PSE or its successor in interest operates The Palace of Auburn Hills, except where noted.
A. Arena Assembly Seating:
- PSE shall provide at least 99 wheelchair accessible seats in The Palace in compliance with the wheelchair space requirements set forth in §802.1 of the 2010 Standards, in accordance with the drawings attached to this Agreement as Exh A, no later than October 1, 2013.
- At least one companion seat shall be provided for each wheelchair space. Companion seats shall be located to provide shoulder alignment with adjacent wheelchair spaces. The shoulder alignment point of the wheelchair space shall be measured 36 inches from the front of the wheelchair space. The floor surface of the companion seat shall be at the same elevation as the floor surface of the wheelchair space. Companion seats shall be equivalent in size, quality, comfort, and amenities to the seating in the immediate area. Companion seats shall be permitted to be movable. See the 2010 Standards §§ 221.3, 802.3.1 and 802.3.2. If an individual using a wheelchair purchases more than one companion seat, PSE shall offer the individual a location for the additional companion(s) in the same row if such location is available at the time of purchase.
- PSE will ensure that all accessible and companion seating will be integrated with the rest of the seating on that level. See the 2010 Standards §221.2.2.
- For basketball configurations, PSE shall provide three (3) first-row wheelchair spaces with three (3) companion seats, with adequate horizontal dispersal to be determined by PSE. If these wheelchair spaces and companion seats are not purchased as part of a season ticket package, they will be filled and sold on an individual game basis in the same manner as other accessible seating. See the 2010 Standards §§ 221.1, 184.108.40.206, 221.3, 802.1 and 802.3.
- For basketball game seating configurations, PSE shall allow a space which could accommodate a wheelchair adjacent to the players' bench. The space need not be marked, and a removable seat may be placed in the wheelchair space when it is not required to accommodate a person eligible for the wheelchair space. See the 2010 Standards §§ 220.127.116.11 and 802.1.
- For concert configurations, PSE shall provide twelve (12) wheelchair spaces with twelve (12) companion seats on the arena floor, with ADA-compliant lines of sight. The spaces will typically be located in the first two rows on the arena floor, but may be adjusted based on artist requirements and varying stage configurations. See the 2010 Standards §§ 221.1, 221.2.3, 221.3, 802.1 and 802.3.
- As all new arena assembly accessible seating shall be accessed from the rear, PSE shall ensure all spectators using wheelchairs are situated as far forward in each space as possible, and that all circulation paths in front of wheelchair spaces are not improperly encroached. See the 2010 Standards §§ 221.1 and 802.1.5.
- Each wheelchair and companion seating location shall provide lines of sight over both seated and standing spectators comparable to those enjoyed by persons without disabilities in the same area. See the 2010 Standards §§ 221.2.3 and 802.2.
- PSE shall alter 5% of aisle seats (for a total of 99 seats) to provide for removable armrests. The designated aisle seats shall be the aisle seats located closest to the accessible routes and shall be identified with a sign or marker. See the 2010 Standards, §§221.4, 802.4.1, and 802.4.2.
- PSE shall ensure that its ticketing and pricing policies, practices, and procedures for events at The Palace afford individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, The Palace's goods and services in a manner comparable to that afforded to other individuals. 28 C.F.R. §36.302(f).
- PSE shall ensure that individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity to purchase tickets for accessible seating during the same hours, during the same stages of ticket sale, through the same methods of distribution, in the same types and numbers of ticketing sales outlets, and under the same terms and conditions as other tickets sold for the same event or series of events. 28 C.F.R. §36.302(f)(1)(ii).
- Beginning with all tickets on sale after October 1, 2013, PSE shall ensure that tickets for all accessible seats will be available for purchase through Ticketmaster in a manner comparable to that afforded to the purchase of general seats. 28 C.F.R. §36.302(f)(1)(ii).
- If tickets for accessible seating at a particular price level cannot be provided by PSE because it is not readily achievable to do so, then PSE shall ensure that tickets for accessible seating shall be offered for purchase at that price level in a nearby or similar accessible location. 28 C.F.R. §36.302(f)(3).
- For all events at The Palace, any unsold tickets for accessible seating, including wheelchair spaces, shall be released to the general public if tickets in the same price category sell out for general public sales. 28 C.F.R. §36.302(f)(5).
- When series-of-event tickets are sold out and PSE releases and sells accessible seats to individuals without disabilities for a series of events, PSE shall establish a process that prevents the automatic reassignment of the accessible seating to such ticket holders for future seasons so that individuals with disabilities who require the features of accessible seating and who become newly eligible to purchase tickets when these series-of-event tickets are available for purchase, have an opportunity to do so. 28 C.F.R. §36.302(f)(5)(iii).
- Per 28 C.F.R. §36.302(f)(8), PSE may not require proof of disability, including, for example, a doctor's note, before selling tickets for accessible seats. For the sale of single-event tickets, it is permissible to inquire whether the individual purchasing the ticket for accessible seating has a mobility disability or other disability that requires the use of accessible features that are provided in the accessible seats. For series-of-events tickets, it is permissible for PSE to ask the individual purchasing the tickets for accessible seating to attest in writing that the accessible seating is for a person who has a mobility disability or other disability that requires the use of accessible features that are provided in the accessible seating area. PSE may also investigate the potential misuse of accessible seating where there is good cause to believe that such seating has been purchased or used fraudulently.
C. Toilet Rooms:
- PSE shall provide at least nine (9) 60-inch wide accessible toilet compartments, located in multi-user toilet rooms, and at least six (6) accessible water closets with 60-inch wide clearance, located in unisex toilet rooms, disbursed as set forth in the table attached to this Agreement as Exh B. See 2010 Standards §§ 213.2, 213.2.1, 213.3.1, 213.3.2 and 604. For all inaccessible toilet rooms PSE shall provide directional signage indicating the location of the nearest accessible toilet rooms. See the 2010 Standards §§ 216.8, 703.5 and 703.7.2.1.
- PSE shall provide at least seventeen (17) ambulatory accessible and/or 60-inch wide accessible toilet compartments with an outward swinging, self-closing door disbursed as set forth in the table attached to this Agreement as Exh B. This reflects at least one (1) such accessible compartment in each accessible toilet room containing six (6) or more toilet compartments or where the combination of urinals and water closets totals six (6) or more fixtures. See the 2010 Standards §§ 213.3.1 and 604.8.2.
- PSE shall provide one (1) new accessible men's toilet room and one (1) new accessible women's toilet room on the Floor Level. See the 2010 Standards §§ 213.2, 213.3, 603, 604 and 606. PSE shall provide and maintain directional signage at inaccessible toilet rooms indicating the location of the nearest accessible toilet room on the Floor Level. See the 2010 Standards §§ 216.8, 703.5 and 703.7.2.1.
- PSE shall provide three (3) accessible men's toilet rooms and four (4) accessible women's toilet rooms on the Concourse Level to accommodate patrons with disabilities utilizing the suites and wheelchair spaces on that level. See the 2010 Standards §§ 213.2, 213.3, 603, 604, 605 and 606. For any inaccessible suite toilet room and multi-user toilet room, PSE shall provide directional signage indicating the location of the designated accessible toilet rooms on the same level. See the 2010 Standards §§ 216.8, 703.5 and 703.7.2.1.
- PSE shall provide at least one (1) accessible men's toilet room and one (1) accessible women's toilet room on the Loge level within the Club 300 area to accommodate patrons with disabilities utilizing the suites on that level. See the 2010 Standards §§ 213.2, 213.3, 603, 604, 605 and 606. For any inaccessible suite toilet room and multi-user toilet room, PSE shall provide directional signage indicating the location of the designated accessible toilet rooms on the same level. See the 2010 Standards §§ 216.8, 703.5 and 703.7.2.1.
- PSE shall provide two (2) accessible unisex toilet rooms on the Club Level to accommodate patrons with disabilities utilizing the suites on the Club Level. See the 2010 Standards §§ 213.2, 213.3, 603, 604 and 606. PSE shall install and maintain directional signage indicating the location of the nearest accessible toilet rooms on the Club Level. See the 2010 Standards §§ 216.8, 703.5 and 703.7.2.1.
- PSE shall provide two (2) accessible toilet rooms on the Upper Level – one men's, one women's. See the 2010 Standards §§ 213.2, 213.3, 603, 604 and 606. During events, PSE will provide adequate staff to ensure that access to these toilet rooms is generally limited to individuals with disabilities. All other patrons will be directed to use toilet rooms on lower levels. PSE shall provide and maintain directional signage indicating the location of the nearest accessible toilet room on the Upper Level. See the 2010 Standards §§ 216.8, 703.5 and 703.7.2.1.
- PSE shall provide one (1) new men's and one (1) new women's accessible employee toilet room on the Floor Level on the opposite end of the hallway from the employee locker areas. PSE shall provide and maintain directional signage indicating the location of the nearest accessible toilet room on the Floor Level.
- PSE shall provide at least one (1) unisex accessible toilet room in the First Aid Room.
- For the upper suite level toilet rooms identified in the United States' site survey, see paragraph 8 above, as lacking sufficient door maneuvering clearance, PSE will either provide an automatic door opener with standby power, or reverse the swing direction and reconfigure the partitions to remove this barrier. See the 2010 Standards §§ 206.5.2, 213.3.1, 404.2.4, 404.3 and 604.8.1.2. For all other toilet rooms identified in the United States' site survey as lacking sufficient door maneuvering clearance, PSE will provide ADA-compliant signage, including tactile signage at the mounting height required by the Standards. See the 2010 Standards §§ 216.2, 703.1 – 703.5.
- For all toilet rooms, PSE shall provide ADA-compliant signage, including tactile signage at the mounting height required by the Standards. See the 2010 Standards §§ 216.2, 703.1 – 703.5.
- PSE has represented that currently the individual (bunker) suites in the President's Club (formerly Club 53) are not generally sold for public use, and are used only infrequently for special gatherings put on by PSE. Should any of these suites later be marketed or sold to the public on a season basis, PSE shall make the suites (including the toilet rooms) accessible in compliance with the 2010 Standards, as they are non-complying alterations performed after January 26, 1992, within 90 days of sale.
- PSE shall provide accessible coat closets, including appropriate shelving and hooks, in all Palace suites. See the 2010 Standards §§ 225.2, 305, 308, 309 and 811.
E. Restaurants and Concessions:
- PSE shall provide at least two (2) accessible tables on the accessible level in the Palace Grill Lounge in an area with the same service and décor as the rest of the restaurant. See the 2010 Standards §§ 902.2 and 902.3.
- PSE shall provide at least two (2) accessible tables adjacent to the fixed booth area in the Palace Grill Lounge. See the 2010 Standards §§ 902.2 and 902.3.
- PSE shall continue to provide accessible tables, marked with the International Symbol for Accessibility, within the bar areas of the Red Bull Bar and Captain Morgan's Bar located in the North Pavilion.
- PSE shall ensure that all moveable service counters provide service at the side of the stand. PSE shall also ensure that employees working at such counters are trained to appropriately service customers with disabilities at the side of the stand.
- PSE shall make alterations and additions to all dining counters so that at least five (5) percent of the seating and standing spaces at the counter provide a clear floor space positioned for a forward approach at an accessible height. See the 2010 Standards §§ 226.1, 902.2 and 902.3.
F. Assisted Listening Devices:
- PSE shall provide no less than twenty (20) fully functional receivers for assisted listening systems ("Assisted Listening Devices") available for patrons with a hearing disability. See the 2010 Standards §219.3. PSE shall ensure that the Assisted Listening Devices remain in good working order and any defects or issues are resolved expeditiously. PSE shall also ensure that it provides the appropriate signage at entrances and ticket windows at The Palace, notifying patrons of the availability of the Assisted Listening Devices. See the 2010 Standards §216.10
G. Alterations and New Construction:
- Any renovations or alterations, as defined in 42 U.S.C. §12183, made to The Palace and not described in this Agreement shall comply in all respects with the ADA, its implementing regulations, and the 2010 Standards, as such statute, regulations, and Standards are in effect as of the date that physical renovations or alterations begin.
- PSE shall train all present and future staff who work at The Palace on any ADA issues relevant to their position at The Palace, including but not limited to: (1) location of accessible seating and restrooms; (2) location of accessible routes into and throughout The Palace, where all routes are not accessible; (3) location and use of accessibility equipment (e.g., assistive listening devices, TTY's, etc.); (4) accessible ticketing policies regarding seating for individuals with disabilities; (5) maintenance of accessible routes; (6) the requirements of this Agreement and changes to policies and procedures arising from this Agreement; and (7) that PSE expects its employees to comply with the Agreement and reserves the right to take personnel actions, reprimand, or terminate any employee who violates or causes a failure to comply with the requirements of this Agreement. PSE shall ensure that all present PSE employees are trained in ADA issues no later than sixty (60) days after the effective date of this Agreement, that future PSE employees are trained in these issues within fourteen (14) days of their first date of employment, and that PSE employees are trained on an annual basis at a date and time selected by PSE in their sole discretion.
I. Relief for Aggrieved Persons:
- Upon the execution of a waiver and release form provided by PSE, PSE shall provide each of two individuals, Peter Berg and Yvonne Hengesbaug, with (4) tickets for accessible or companion seats to any five (5) events, subject to availability, at The Palace that occur within three (3) years from the effective date of this Agreement.
III. IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF AGREEMENT
- The Attorney General of the United States is authorized, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §12188(b)(1)(B), to bring a civil action under title III, enforcing the ADA in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist or a matter of general public importance is raised. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, the United States agrees to refrain from filing civil suit under title III in this matter regarding the specific issues discussed herein, so long as PSE complies with the terms of this Agreement.
- The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time.
- If the United States believes that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it agrees to notify PSE in writing of the specific violation(s) alleged. PSE shall have thirty (30) days from its receipt of the notice to cure and/or respond in writing to the United States the alleged violation(s). If, after further discussion with PSE, the United States believes that PSE has violated the Agreement, the United States may institute a civil action for relief in federal district court, and the United States is authorized to seek civil penalties for any violation of this Agreement, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §12188(b)(2)(C).
- On October 1, 2013, PSE shall certify to the United States, in writing, that it has fulfilled to completion all of its obligations under this Agreement. The certification shall describe the steps that were taken to fulfill those obligations and shall be accompanied by photographs depicting the completed barrier removal work. The parties expressly agree that providing such certification is essential to the enforcement of this Agreement, and that a failure to provide the certification required by this paragraph constitutes a breach of this Agreement sufficient to warrant the penalties set out in paragraph 55.
- All notices, demands, reports or other communication to be provided to the United States pursuant to this Agreement shall be in writing and delivered by U.S. mail or electronic mail to the following:
Susan K. DeClercq, Assistant U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
211 W. Fort Street,
Detroit, MI 48226
- This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it may be made available to any person.
- Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of its right to do so with regard to other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
- This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, shall be enforceable. This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth herein and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, including violations of the alterations or new construction provisions of the Act, or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not affect the continuing responsibility of PSE to comply with all aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act, including readily achievable barrier removal.
- If any provision of this Agreement is determined by any court to be unenforceable, the other terms of this Agreement shall nonetheless remain in full force and effect, provided however, that if the severance of any such provision materially alters the rights or obligations of the parties, the United States and PSE shall engage in good faith negotiations in order to adopt such mutually agreeable amendments to this Agreement as may be necessary to restore the parties as closely as possible to the initially agreed-upon relative rights and obligations.
- This Agreement is a compromise of claims, and it is not intended to reflect any legal interpretation of any provision of the ADA by the United States and cannot be used in any proceeding to demonstrate such legal interpretations.
- A signor of this document in a representative capacity for an entity represents that he or she is authorized to bind such entity to this Agreement.
- This Agreement shall be binding on PSE and its successors in interest in ownership or operation of The Palace of Auburn Hills, and PSE has a duty to so notify all such successors in interest.
- The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below. This Agreement shall remain in effect for three (3) years from the effective date.
Agreed and Consented to:
For the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BARBARA L. McQUADE
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Michigan
/s/ Susan DeClercq
SUSAN K. DeCLERCQ
Assistant United States Attorney
211 W. Fort Street, Ste. 2001
Detroit, Michigan 48226
For Palace Sports and Entertainment, LLC
/s/Lucinda K. Treat(RH)
LUCINDA K. TREAT
Executive Vice President
6 Championship Dr.
Auburn Hills, MI 48326