It’s definitely a trend in the sports world: a Red Bull Arena sensory friendly area for families affected by autism was unveiled by the New York Red Bulls before tonight’s match.
The announcement comes in advance of Autism Awareness Night tonight at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls host the Chicago Fire at 7:30 p.m.
“Autism impacts my family and countless others everyday,” said Marc de Grandpre, Red Bulls General Manager, via press release. “Families deserve to feel welcome and comfortable each time they step foot into Red Bull Arena, not just one night a year. We hope all sports teams and entertainment venues are inspired to take similar action to provide comfort for families with loved ones on the Autism spectrum.”
The room will occupy space previously used as executive offices, which overlook the pitch near midfield. The New York Red Bulls teamed up with the Family Services team from Autism Awareness to design the room, which provides space for families to enjoy Red Bulls games while sitting inside, away from the bulk of the noise and energy of the arena.
The room will feature dimmed lighting and lightly colored walls to offer a soothing effect, along with visual aids, fidget toys and other activities. The room will also have sensory sacks, similar to the ones handed out at Autism Awareness Night, which include headphones and stress balls among other items.
As noted, this is definitely a trend in the sports world. Several Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball teams have created similar sensory-friendly spaces, while the Staten Island Yankees (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) unveiled such a space this season.