COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Lower.com Field was built with the goal of having a little something for everyone, including the second-largest supporter’s section, a beer garden and brew house and the southeast plaza for pregame festivities.
Another part of building the Crew’s new fortress was including two sensory rooms making Columbus the only team with multiple options for people with sensory issues.
It’s a continuation of a trend first set by the Cavaliers in 2017 when Cleveland became the first team in American professional sports to designate a sensory area inside its arena. Now, teams all across the country, including the Crew, are creating those areas into their new stadiums.
“One of the goals when were designing to build the stadium was to provide a place where there was acceptance and inclusion for all patrons coming to the building,” said Frank DePizzo, the vice president of stadium operations for the Crew.
DePizzo was with the New Orleans Pelicans when they created a sensory area in house and knew it was something Crew fans should have as well in their new downtown digs.
“We partnered with Kulture City who’s a leading nonprofit organization when it comes to sensory issues and basically what we did was they helped us design both rooms,” he said.
Kulture City also provides sensory bag kits, which fans can use in the room or in the stands. The bags can be checked out at the Crew team shop by leaving a photo ID and picking it up when you return the bag.
“We pick out all the elements, we ship everything so everything is thought out by autistic individuals, individuals of various sensory needs as well as trained medical professionals,” said Uma Srivastava, the executive director at Kulture City.
Sensory training is required for the more than 300 ushers and ticket takers who work at Lower.com Field and another 300 security members are going through that training right now.
“They really do provide that atmosphere. There’s only one of me, There’s several hundred of them,” DePizzo said. “They really truly touch the fans so to them I always want to say thank you because they provide that great environment.”