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Trial expected for Red Rocks federal discrimination lawsuit

DENVER -- Weeks after being hit by a federal discrimination lawsuit, Red Rocks Amphitheatre shows no signs of backing down.

People with disabilities said the city and county-owned concert venue has an area for handicapped seating but any patron, regardless of disability, is allowed to sit in the specialized area.

The lack of enforcement routinely causes issues during popular events with limited seating availability, according to the lawsuit.

Evidence of the claims continues to be gathered for the case ahead of the discovery process. Plaintiffs said they hoped to settle out of court, but they anticipate the case will head to court. A separate case, filed against Red Rocks claiming discrimination against people with disabilities is demanding a jury trial. That case’s plaintiff is from Texas. Many of those involved in the class-action lawsuit are from Colorado.

“It’s just so frustrating to have to go through this,” plaintiff Frank Mango said.

Mango is part of the class-action lawsuit that claims disability seating at Red Rocks is not truly reserved for those with disabilities.

“You’re lucky if you see four or five people in wheelchairs, and a lot of people have just given up,” Mango said.

Mango has seen dozens of shows at Red Rocks over the past 30 years. During that time, he was able to walk to his seat. Since an accident in 2013, he has been forced to navigate select areas in his wheelchair.

He said the venue's current policies force those in wheelchairs from all but the most distant seats.

The lawsuit said special seating is only available in the first and 70th rows. The coveted first row is usually unavailable, according to Mango.

The lawsuit claims those attractive handicapped seats are sold in an instant, later found on secondary scalping websites at three times the original value.

“I refuse to go to StubHub and spend $1,000 for front row tickets just so I can get there,” Mango said.

The plaintiffs said staffers do not check to make sure the first row is being used by those who need it. Mango is one of 20 fighting the City and County of Denver, hoping the lawsuit will have a positive impact nationwide.

"We as the city, owning several properties, do what we can to provide and improve accessibility to all of our patrons," the city and county said in a statement.

A trial date has not been set.