SAN DIEGO — Petco Park has become the first sensory inclusive stadium on the west coast with areas that allows for a more comfortable environment for fans with autism to be able to enjoy the game.
According to the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention, autism affects one in 59 children – many who struggle with sensory issues and sensitivity to light and sounds.
Petco Park said it is still going through the process of training its staff to be more accommodating for people with special needs.
Additionally, the stadium will provide sensory bags that will be available to check out at guest service locations and will include noise-cancelling headphones, fidgets, feeling thermometers and location wristbands for parents to write their phone numbers on.
The sensory bags will also include cards with pictures for those that are non-verbal. Petco Park will also offer maps that show where the loud and quiet spots are throughout the stadium.
On Tuesday, Raul Fontes took his 17-year-old daughter, Belinda, to the Padres game. Belinda is autistic and does not speak and has a hard time sitting still.
“My biggest fear is my daughter would run off and she can’t say who she is,” he said.
Though Raul said he would still need additional help bringing his daughter to a game, he believes the San Diego Padres are taking a step in the right direction.
“I think it is great what the Padres are doing. There are a lot of parents in my situation where you want to go to the game but have an autistic kid and it is hard to go,” he said.
Petco Park is implementing the changes with the help of the non-profit, Kulture City.
Those attending a game at Petco can acquire a sensory bag or map at guest services.