What it was like attending a Queen concert with a mobility aid

A columnist shares his thoughts on the accessibility of the Baltimore venue

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

Share this article:

Share article via email
banner image for Ed Tobias' column

For someone with multiple sclerosis (MS), going to a venue to see a concert or sporting event can be an experience filled with uncertainty — especially if, like me, they’re using a mobility aid. For me to do it, I have to ask myself several questions: How will I get there? If I drive, how early should I arrive to find a parking spot where I can unload my scooter? How knowledgeable and helpful will the staff be? How many speed bumps — both figurative and literal — will I need to navigate?

My wife, Laura, and I occasionally go to these types of events. When we’re in Florida, we like to see spring training baseball games. Charlotte Sports Park, where the Tampa Bay Rays train, is small and easy to navigate, and its accessible seats have a great view.

We also like to go to live music shows. The largest music venues near our Florida condo are relatively small — no bigger than a large high school auditorium. Parking at all of these venues is close by and inexpensive. So far, attending events in the Sunshine State has been pretty easy for me.

Recommended Reading
banner for

AXS Map Helps Crowdsource Venue Accessibility Across the Globe

When we’re in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area, however, logistics become more complicated. Attending events there requires some advanced planning. This was the case for our most recent outing to see the rock group Queen.

Laura and I have wanted to see this group, now headed by vocalist Adam Lambert, for a while. A concert in Baltimore several weeks ago offered us that opportunity. It also gave me a chance to assess the accessibility of a different venue after I had a less-than-perfect experience at an Elton John concert at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., a year ago. 

Getting in

The CFG Bank Arena is too far from our apartment in the D.C. suburbs to take advantage of a ride-share service — which didn’t work very well for the Elton John concert, anyway. So it was driving or nothing.

A parking garage with a prepaid spot made access to the building easy but expensive. It cost about $50 to park for four hours. A helpful parking attendant pointed me to a reserved space that was even closer to the entrance than the marked handicapped spots — a good start. I unloaded my little TravelScoot mobility aid and Laura and I were inside, lickety-split.

A photo taken from nosebleed seats shows the band Queen performing onstage. The venue is dark but the stage is lit up in red and purple lights.

The view from our nosebleed seats at a Queen concert in Baltimore, in late October. (Photo by Ed Tobias)

The arena has someone who helps with accessibility concerns and is available before the event via email. I had checked the path to our seating location several days earlier. I was told to take the elevator to the fourth level to reach our seats. That wasn’t quite correct. We found our section, but discovered that we were at the bottom of it while our seats were at the top. That’s a problem for someone who uses a mobility aid.

Reaching the handicapped section at the “nosebleed” level required returning to the now-crowded elevator to go up one more level. There weren’t many people on Level 5, but there were also no ushers to help us find our seats. We had to look around a bit and finally found them hidden behind an unmarked curtain.

Getting out

At the end of the concert, there was a long wait for the operator-controlled elevator to return to the fifth level. The priority seemed to be clearing the lower levels first. The concession stands were closing and the arena lights were being doused when we finally got back to our car.

Overall, I’d give the CFG Bank Arena a 7.5 out of 10. They have the right idea, but they need to make a few tweaks to up their game. And while our view wasn’t the greatest, the music was amazing.

You’re invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Jackie Hajji avatar

Jackie Hajji

Hi Ed, my husband and I attended the first concert of this tour like you and did, at the CFG Bank Arena. I concur with your venue experience, but we weren’t able to get accessible seats, so it was a tough couple of hours trying to keep my walking stick from tripping other concertgoers. Agree the band gave a show worth bucket list status!

Reply

Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.