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People visit the amphitheatre at Red Rocks Park as temperatures soar toward the 90-degree mark Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Morrison, Colo. The open-air amphitheatre is a naturally-formed, world-famous outdoor venue west of downtown Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Denver will pay $47,950.90 to settle a discrimination claim that alleged wheelchair-accessible seats at Red Rocks Amphitheatre were more expensive than non-accessible seats in the iconic city-owned venue.

Amy Fink, a concertgoer who after six years of cancer treatment uses a wheelchair, first brought the complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice after the cost of her ticket for accessible seating was higher than other tickets. 

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, venues are not allowed to charge higher prices for seats that are accessible to people who use wheelchairs. Red Rocks has 121 accessible seats for their events — all of which are in the front row, or in the last row, high in the open-air amphitheater that is built into a rock formation near Morrison. Venues like Red Rocks that physically cannot make accessible seating available in all parts of the theater must price the tickets as though the seats were proportionally distributed. 

The Department of Justice found that more than 10% of people who purchased wheelchair-accessible seats were charged more than they should have been under ADA regulations, at times paying $130 more per ticket for their seats, Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeyen Wu said in a video news release

The refunds will be given to about 1,817 people who attended 178 events at Red Rocks. 

Concert promoters Live Nation, AEG and PBS12 also paid a civil penalty.

Kevin Williams, legal program director for the Cross-Disability Coalition, said the advocacy organization sued Denver in 2017 to stop scalpers from acquiring Red Rocks tickets by saying the needed accessible seating and then reselling the tickets at exorbitant rates. The case was settled about a year later.“It really was complicated, because unfortunately, it’s hard to prevent people from taking advantage,” Williams said. “What happened is somebody in a wheelchair would show up at a concert, and the whole front row wheelchair seating area is taken up by people who didn’t [use a wheelchair].”

Brammhi Balarajan

Email: Twitter: @brammhi