MORRISON, Colo. (KDVR) — Some changes are coming to Red Rocks Amphitheatre in an effort to make the iconic venue more accessible for concertgoers with disabilities. 

Red Rocks presents a lot of logistical challenges when it comes to visitors with limited mobility. The venue is built into a natural, mountainous amphitheater. The only way to access most of the seating areas is by climbing dozens of stairs.

City took input on Red Rocks accessibility

“Accessibility here is never gonna be what we in the disability community want it,” Alison Butler said. “We can’t do an elevator here based on this venue outside, so we had to make the best of the places that we could get particularly wheeled mobility devices.”

Butler was one of the attorneys involved in a lawsuit against Denver in 2016 over lack of accessible seating. Now, she is the director of Denver’s Division of Disability Rights.

She said when she took the position in early 2022, Denver was already considering proposals for improving accessibility at Red Rocks. However, she said the initial plan decreased access for wheelchairs. 

Over the summer, Denver held a series of community meetings in order to get input from people who would directly be impacted by the changes. 

“And it significantly changed the architectural plans,” Butler said. 

Red Rocks seating changes coming in 2023

Following the 2022 concert season, Red Rocks will begin construction to widen the first row of seats, which are reserved for concertgoers in wheelchairs and their companions. Right now, portions of the row are too narrow to allow wheelchairs to fully rotate.

The changes, according to Butler, will also add a few more wheelchair-accessible seats in the front row. 

“Having more seats and a fully accessible row 1 can be a game changer to people,” she said. 

While accessibility improves, tickets still an issue

“That’s one of the benefits of being in a wheelchair is you get access to row one at Red Rocks, assuming you can get the tickets,” Frank Mango said. 

Mango became disabled in 2013 and now uses a wheelchair to get around. He was part of the 2016 lawsuit and has been fighting for equal access at Red Rocks for years. 

He said while the planned changes are a step in the right direction, the venue needs to do more to block scalpers from buying accessible seats to sell to able-bodied customers.

“It was very easy for scalpers to buy in the front row and then sell them,” he said. “That’s not fair for this community just because people buy tickets from scalpers at a thousand bucks a piece and dance, drink around, and I couldn’t go to that concert because of them.”

Changes to accessibility will be unveiled beginning with the 2023 concert season. The rest of the work is expected to be completed by March 2025.