Industry News

Belfast’s SSE Arena accused of disability discrimination over pre-sale

The father of a disabled girl has accused Belfast’s SSE Arena of discriminating against his daughter after being unable to obtain wheelchair and carer pre-sale tickets.

After acquiring a pre-sale discount code for X Factor Live through an SSE Airtricity customer account, Rogers was told he could not get two wheelchair spaces, plus two carer spots, for his 16-year-old daughter, Katie, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Rogers said that he was told when he rang the SSE Arena Belfast box office that he would need to wait until general sale.

“If something’s on early release it should be on early release for everybody,” Rogers told the Belfast Live news website.

“I know you have to be a customer, but there has to be a level playing field for people in a wheelchair. Katie came home from school and said you could get the X Factor tickets on pre-sale if you get a code from [energy firm] Airtricity.

“She’s not daft, she knows we are Airtricity customers. So my wife got the code and I rang up the box office, quoted the code, that was no problem.”

The SSE, formerly the Odyssey Arena, said presales are online only through the SSE Rewards online system. Wheelchair tickets can be purchased via any method, online, box office phone, box office counter or at a Ticketmaster outlet. It is only carer tickets that are not available on presale.

Rogers said he felt Katie had been “discriminated against” because she is unable to attend without a carer.

After being unable to obtain tickets in the pre-sale, Rogers said his wife waited in line at the box office to get the tickets needed. Although they were able to get the seats, the father said he had been dreading the possibility of telling his daughter she may miss out “because you are in a wheelchair.”

A spokesperson for the SSE Arena, which is owned by the Odyssey Trust Company and operated by Odyssey Millennium, said: “Tickets for the wheelchair area can be purchased through the Ticketmaster website, Ticketmaster outlets or the Arena Box Office during presale or when on general sale.

“Complimentary essential aid/carers tickets are available for customers with a disability who require assistance entering the venue, during the event and leaving the venue and these can only be requested through our box office.

“There are a limited number of carers’ tickets available so issue of these tickets has to be controlled, which is only possible through the box office.

“We work closely with a number of disability groups to ensure that we are providing the best possible service to our disabled patrons.”

Image: Ross