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Speedway agreement pledges ADA compliance

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Thursday it will pursue full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in what an attorney involved in the matter said could be the largest settlement agreement under the 1990 law.

IMS has signed a settlement agreement in which it will be fully ADA compliant within 30 months, Joe Hogsett, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, said at a news conference. “This has been no small feat,” he said, noting the nature and size of the more than century-old venue.

Attorney Greg Fehribach of Doninger Tuohy & Bailey LLP represented Dan Ward, a disabled patron who filed a complaint against the Speedway in 1999 after being denied access to the pit area during a practice session, even though he held a pit pass. Ward was prevented from entering the pits because he was in a wheelchair.

“We appreciate everyone’s hard work in accomplishing this agreement,” Fehribach said, praising the efforts of Hogsett’s office and the Speedway to reach a resolution. Fehribach said he was aware of no other ADA compliance settlement agreement for such a large facility. Indianapolis Motor Speedway has the largest seating capacity of any sporting venue in the world.

Hogsett said there were more than 360 features that had been identified where corrective action was needed to assure accessibility. “Most of those identified issues have already been addressed,” he said.

Items on the list include projects to redesign or refurbish IMS corporate headquarters, three major parking areas, vista and grandstand areas, concession stands, restrooms and other facilities.

By mid-2015, Hogsett said, the accessibility project checklist included in the agreement will be completed. Debra Richards has been the lead U.S. attorney working on the agreement, and IMS officials will provide her quarterly updates on progress.

“We believe the settlement agreement is something that’s going to set a standard for the nation,” Richards said.

IMS Director of Engineering Kevin Forbes said the agreement takes into consideration the size, historic landmark status and unique nature of the Speedway, whose grandstands and other facilities were constructed long before accessibility was a consideration.

Forbes said the experience was bittersweet but renewed the Speedway’s commitment to accessibility. “This was a great opportunity for us to shine,” he said. He did not provide estimates about the cost of improvements.

“Today’s announcement serves as a reminder that the march toward equality continues, and the office remains dedicated to defending the civil rights of all Indiana residents,” Hogsett said in a statement. “For more than a century, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a treasured symbol for all Hoosiers, and this agreement ensures that it will be now accessible to all Hoosiers.”

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