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Investors Group Field disappoints wheelchair athlete

CBC

A Winnipeg-based Paralympic athlete and Blue Bombers fan missed the team's inaugural game at Investors Group Field because of what he says is discrimination when it comes to wheelchair-friendly seating.

Colin Mathieson, who most recently competed in last year's Paralympic Games in London, said he had hoped to see the Bombers play the Toronto Argonauts in Wednesday evening's pre-season game.

The game was the first to be held at the new facility, which replaced the aging Canad Inns Stadium as the Bombers' home.

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"I was happy to hear there that was going to be a new [stadium] because based on my understanding, you know, it would be brought up to 2013 building codes, so any problems that they had experienced as far as accessibility at the old one would be non-existent," he told CBC News late Thursday.

But Mathieson, a longtime fan of the Winnipeg CFL team, said he was shocked when he learned all the accessible seats at Investors Group Field are clustered in certain corners, giving him a limited range of choices.

"You don't get to necessarily pick the part of the stadium you want to sit in," he said.

"If I wanted to sit in the family section, it would be unavailable. And if I brought my family and I wanted to go in the alcohol-free zone, I wouldn't necessarily have access to that either."

He was also outraged to learn the stadium's accessible seats have only one price, and it's around $13 more than the cheapest seats overall.

According to the Bombers, the lowest-priced seats in the wheelchair-accessible category cost around $35, while the cheapest seats are about $22.

By contrast, the MTS Centre and other facilities offer accessible seats in a variety of sections and price points.

"It's not financially prohibitive but … it leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I don't really want to participate in that type of behaviour," Mathieson said.

The Blue Bombers were not available to comment on his concerns Thursday night.

Mathieson said he's disappointed that Investors Group Field, a state-of-the-art facility, appears to be so poorly planned for fans who use wheelchairs.

"I'm not entirely sure I even want to come and come watch a game anymore," he said.

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