The Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales has permanently reduced its seating for pitch-based events, in order to increase its disabled access by up to 30%.
Building work has been completed to create 46 new wheelchair bays, taking the total number to 214, doubling the stadium’s offering for ambulant disabled access and providing extra seating (up to 111 seats) for additional carers.
Stadium manager Mark Williams said:
One of our key stated objectives at the WRU is to engage more people, more often in our national sport and we are making these changes because it is the right thing to do.
We have vastly improved and enhanced our offering for disabled spectators, this has meant a small reduction in our capacity for pitch-based events in the Stadium, by around 500 seats, but our overall offering to supporters has been significantly boosted in the process.
Demand in this quarter has increased over the years and we have undertaken the work to increase wheelchair bays, ambulant disabled and carer seating to a level that surpasses current demand.
In order to do so we have made significant up-front investment, but this will have a hugely positive effect on our long term appeal to incoming event owners and to supporters from around the globe who visit the Stadium on a regular basis.
The project, which cost around £100,000, was undertaken partly due to increased demand from both disabled and ambulant disabled supporters, but also to reflect modern standards after a thorough review of current facilities.
When the stadium was built in 1997-1999 the legal requirement for disabled access allowed for 168 wheelchair bays to be included as part of design specifications and that requirement remains in place today.
But a new venue of the size of Principality Stadium being built in the present day would require many more and the WRU Group, which owns and operates the ground – which is the national stadium of Wales – is both keen to keep up with modern standards and also ensure that rugby remains a game for all.