Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chicago says it plans for stadium seats to become wheelchairs if it gets 2016 Olympics

From NBC Chicago:

If Chicago wins the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, it could be a moving experience for thousands of disabled people around the world.

That’s because a majority of the seats in the planned Olympic venue at Washington Park may be converted into wheelchairs for the destitute and disabled, the Sun-Times reports.

Designers plan to make the 80,000 seat stadium collapsible so that it won’t take up as much space once the games – should Chicago land them – are finished. That means nearly 50,000 seats will go elsewhere. So they’re hatching a plan that would convert the remaining seats into permanent wheelchairs.

The idea belongs to Darren Brehm, a consultant for the Chicago 2016 bid team. Brehm has been wheelchair-bound ever since a 1990 car wreck left him paralyzed so he knows the value of this idea.

"It could change a lot of people's lives,'' said Brehm.

Olympic big wigs like it too.

"It addresses a social issue where we can make wheelchairs -- privately funded -- available to people around the world with disabilities,'' said Chicago 2016 bid CEO Patrick Ryan. "There are still people around the world who still have to drag themselves because they don't have wheelchairs."