OGDEN -- Fans with disabilities will be able to watch Weber State football games from an improved vantage point beginning today.
Gone are the games when fans in wheelchairs had to watch games at Stewart Stadium from the track or by the long-jump area under the scoreboard. Those views made any type of depth perception or game progress difficult to watch. The university, with budgeted funds from the athletic department, has installed a permanent ramp on the south side of the west stands.
The ramp leads to an approximately 6-foot-high platform area with approximately room for six wheelchairs and space for companion chairs. The upgrade cost $60,000.
"It's something that has taken longer than it should," said former Weber State athletic director Jerry Graybeal, who resigned that position to take a fundraising role for the department.
"But we are happy it is here."
Work continued on the ramp through Friday with workers from West Haven's CK Construction Corp. doing final spot welds on the ramp and installing the chainlink screen behind the ramp's railings.
It took time to figure out the right place at the stadium for the ramp, Graybeal said.
It took plenty of study to determine the best placement to meet code for the slope of ramp.
The Americans With Disabilities Act says for every inch of rise there must be 12 inches of ramp.
Officials also looked at the north side of the stands but determined there was not enough room.
The new ramp runs to the side of the west stands and has one switchback. Graybeal said it required workers to move part of the stadium fence back in the area to allow needed room.
The ramp also is close to accessible restrooms. Disabled parking may also be moved closer to the ramp as well.
There was also worry that the new ramp would block passage to storage for game day material, such as tents and signs. However, Graybeal said he can still turn a golf cart in and out of the area between the ramp and the storage area and that is no longer an issue.
"The thing that is great is that fans with disabilities will get a whole new view of the game," said Graybeal, who has a brother who is disabled.
"We can also expand the platform in the future, if needed."
The game against Northern Arizona University starts at noon today.
Tickets for the platform area are $10.