Thursday, October 15, 2009
7 News Features: Ticket Trouble
Who wouldn't want to meet their favorite rock stars at a concert. One South Florida man was willing to pay big bucks for that chance, but he was stunned when he was told he could kiss the idea goodbye because of his disability. The nightteam's Louis Aguirre has the Ticket Trouble.
WSVN -- From the minute you walk into Mark Didia's living room, you know he's a huge rock and roll fan.
Mark Didia: "Those are my guitar heros."
Lit's a shrine to some of the greatest rock and rollers. One of his favorite items, the head of Kiss Frontman, Gene Simmons complete with an electric blue flashing tongue.
Mark Didia: "Kiss is more than just music, it's an experience."
And Mark was willing to pay big bucks for that experience during Kiss's South Florida stop at the Bank Atlantic Center. He wanted to purchase the $1,000 meet and greet VIP package..
It includes a premium reserved ticket in the first five rows, a meet and greet with the members of the band and a personal photograph with Kiss.
Mark Didia: "When I called Ticketmaster to get VIP seating, they said sorry, we can't accomodate you."
Mark is a quadriplegic he was in the Navy and was injured during a training exercise.
Mark Didia: "I broke my neck diving into a wave in the ocean and the wave pushed my head down into a sandbar and it exploded the fith vertabrea in my neck."
He relies on this wheelchair to get around.
Mark Didia: "I had to specifically request wheelchair seating."
But he says he couldn't believe his ears when Ticketmaster told him wheelchair seating wasn't available in the VIP section.
Mark Didia: "I was angry. I felt belittled, I felt like why wasn't I good enough to meet them when anybody else can that's walking, what I'm not good enough to meet KISS, I don't understand that."
Mark made dozens of calls hoping to get someone to explain why they didn't offer disabled people VIP seats.
Mark Didia: "Ticketmaster told me to call Bank Atlantic Center and Bank Atlantic Center told me to call Ticketmaster."
Randall Berg: "He is being discriminated against."
Randall Berg of the Florida Justice Institute says concert venues and ticket sellers are breaking the law by not providing wheelchair seating.
Randall Berg: "The Department of Justice, which issues regulations concerning ticketing says not only is the BankAtlantic Center required to provide equal access for people with disabilities, but so is third party ticket vendors such as Ticketmaster, they're also required to provide equal access."
Bank Atlantic, Ticketmaster and a company called Live Nation Merchandise, which provided the VIP packages. All told us there is handicapped seating for the concert including the VIP area. No one could explain why Mark was told there wasn't, but the good news Mark will get to live out his life long dream.
Mark Didia: "I want to rock and roll all night and party every day."
And Mark will have Kiss to thank for that