KY Taylor Swift Super Fan’s Unforgettable Eras Concert Experience Shines Light on Major Ticketmaster Issue
At the beginning of May, a community of supporters gathered around Owensboro Swiftie Leah Abell to make her dreams come true. This past weekend, she was able to attend Taylor Swift's Eras Concert with her parents at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Leah's mother Sara said, "I am incredibly thankful that Leah got to be at the concert and have the absolute best night of her life." I watched the live stream Sara shared on her Facebook page and my heart grew five sizes seeing Leah sing and dance with the biggest smile on her face.
She had the whole Eras Tour experience including her fancy manicure, sparkly dress, and arms full of bracelets to trade and make friends. In fact, Leah was in full-on celebrity status before even leaving the hotel!
Proud Swiftie dad Ronnie Abell who was the chauffeur for the day said "The excitement around here is unmatched by anything I've ever seen! The madness is real but Leah Abell is having the time of her life!”
As you may remember, this almost didn't happen for sweet Leah. Ticketmaster royally messed up the pre-sale for Taylor Swift's already legendary Eras Tour so much that the Justice Department has opened an investigation. With the system crashing, pre-sale codes not working, and scalpers sneaking in to buy tickets to resale at astronomical prices, they have a lot of improvements to make. However, one issue, in particular, is especially enraging.
Ticketmaster did not have tickets for sale specifically for ADA seating. Usually, when folks buy accessible tickets, there is a little marking with a wheelchair sticker, but that was not the case for Taylor Swift's concerts. It was a free for all with folks all over the country unknowingly purchasing ADA tickets because that was what was available as the shows sold out ridiculously fast.
Sara is a fierce advocate for her daughter. While the concert was a magical experience, she explains, "I was again reminded of the inequality of the situation for those with disabilities. The ADA section was packed with abled bodies dancing their hearts out. I spoke to some sitting close to us to learn they paid $350 a ticket at the initial sale. This is unfair that we and many, many others had to resort to re-sale tickets for ADA seating that were so very inflated. We would have never been able to pull this experience off without the help of so many. But it shouldn’t have to be this way. We shouldn’t have to have fundraisers for Leah to attend entertainment events. And don’t get me started on the people crammed in the elevators preventing those with wheelchairs space to get on at the arena!"
For those of us who don't deal with accessibility issues on a daily basis, it is easy to go about our business unaware of the hardships folks around us face. This is a good reminder to not use services and spaces reserved for people with mobility issues. I hope bringing awareness to this problem will energize the community to come together again to create change. When Sara called the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, Office for more information, they told her ticketing issues were up to the venues to enforce. This seems virtually impossible to me. What, are they going to turn folks away when they get there? How will they deal with folks who have less noticeable disabilities? I don't know the answer, but I do know that what Ticketmaster and the large show arenas are doing is not equitable for all.
Leah is still talking about what an amazing time she had at Tay-Tay's concert. She told her mom, "Mama, I was watching videos last night and then I had dreams I was back there!” This is wonderful because Leah usually has horrible nightmares. Sara told me "She deals with pain and other discomforts all day every day, so this entire process has allowed a distraction for her from her life of many hardships. This is what entertainment does for many who have physical limitations so even more the reason for ADA to better protect seating for their use."
I did come across a group of Swifties in the legal community who have organized Vigilante Legal. Their slogan is "Look what you made us do," and their mission is to educate and encourage folks across the country to get involved in fighting issues of injustice. If this is something you feel strongly about, contact Ticketmaster, call or write your representatives and ask them to do something about this monopoly that excludes our friends and neighbors like Leah, from experiencing the life-changing joy of live music.