The latest trend in the NFL? Sensory rooms in stadiums for fans on the autistic spectrum or with other sensory issues.
In the 2019 season the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars have all unveiled rooms designed for people who require a calm, quiet place away from the roar of the game. The rooms are usually sound-proofed and have toys and other resources to relieve stress.
“When we think about families with children with autism coming to a game, there’s barriers to re-entry, there’s sensory overload when we score a touchdown and there’s pyrotechnics,” Ryan Hammond, executive director of the Eagles Autism Challenge, told the AP. “We felt the sensory room was what we needed to be fully accessible . The idea behind it was not to change the experience but deliver a solution if they needed to take a break.”
As the years progressed, more sensory features were added to additional football stadiums across the nation.
Arizona Cardinals (State Farm Stadium)
To make our stadium more inclusive, we’ve introduced new sensory kits!
Each kit is equipped with Cardinals branded earphones, two fidget toys and squeeze ball. Kits are available for keep at all Guest Services Booths should anyone need to use them.
Atlanta Faclons (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
The Mercedes-Benz Stadium sensory room is located at Section 133 on the 100 Concourse Level (near the elevator bank). The sensory room is open to our fans, guests, and customers with sensory sensitivities. The sensory room is open for all events at the stadium from the time the stadium gates open through the end of the event. Children using the sensory room must be accompanied by an adult.
On event day, please contact any Guest Services team member with questions or assistance navigating to the sensory room. Access to the Sensory Room may be limited given certain circumstances (e.g., guests with extraordinary needs, demand, etc.).
If you have any questions prior to event day, please email GuestService@mercedesbenzstadium.com, or call the Mercedes-Benz Stadium general information line at (470) 341-5000 and choose Option #3 for Guest Service.
Minnesota Vikings / US Bank Stadium
A Fan Sensory Kit was designed to help fans with special sensory needs feel comfortable and remain engaged during games. Items were chosen to mitigate environmental factors and provide engaging sensory input on multiple level to meet the unique needs of users. Available at Guest Services located on the Main Concourse near the Purple and Gold lobbies or Section 307 on the Upper Concourse. Click here view the Autism Social Narrative. Special thanks to the Autism Society of Minnesota for their assistance with this program.
New Orleans Saints (Caesars Superdome)
During Saints games, guests may check out Kulture City Sensory Bags at no cost to utilize fidget toys, weighted lap pads, noise-canceling headphones, and other resources during the event. Sensory bags are located at the Guest Service Center located at Gate F Plaza Level, Iberville Club Lounge – Glass Room 1, and Claiborne Club Lounge – Glass Room 1. Please be advised you will need a Photo I.D. to check out a sensory bag.
Philadelphia Eagles (Lincoln Financial Field)
The Philadelphia Eagles, in partnership with KultureCity, have announced the official certification of Lincoln Financial Field as a sensory-inclusive stadium. This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all guests and fans with sensory challenges visiting Lincoln Financial Field. As part of that, the Eagles have become one of the first sports franchises to build a state-of-the-art sensory room in its home venue.
Presented by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), a founding beneficiary partner of the Eagles Autism Challenge and one of the nation’s top-ranked hospitals for children, the Lincoln Financial Field sensory room is one piece of a broader collaboration between the Eagles and CHOP to benefit families throughout the region. For the past decade, the Eagles and CHOP have collaborated on the team’s annual Huddle Up event, a carnival-style gathering geared specifically for families impacted by autism. Since August 2016, the Eagles have donated nearly $2 million to benefit autism programs at CHOP and the Center for Autism Research.
The sensory inclusive certification process entailed training for Eagles employees and Lincoln Financial Field staff by leading medical professionals. It included how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory bags equipped with noise-cancelling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads are made available to all guests as part of their experience. The 500-square-foot, state-of-the-art sensory room has been carefully designed by top medical professionals to ensure a quieter and more secure environment.
Lincoln Financial Field’s sensory room opened its doors to the public on Sunday, August 4, at the team’s Training Camp practice. With proceeds from Sunday’s practice going to the Eagles Autism Challenge, Inc. the team’s philanthropic priority in support of autism research and care, more than half a million dollars ($506k+) was raised for the cause.
Seattle Seahawks (Lummen Field)
The Seahawks opened the A-OK sensory room at Lumen Field in 2019 in order to better support guests with sensory needs. On Friday, the Seahawks announced updates to the room, more training for event staff, and a new name for the sensory room, which will now be known as Ben’s Room in honor of Ben Schneider, the son of John and Traci Schneider, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3.
As was the case with the original sensory room, Ben’s Room will continue to offer guests at Lumen Field a safe and calming environment for those who need a respite from the noise and excitement that comes with the Seahawks gameday experience.
To oversee the renovation of the sensory room, the Seahawks partnered with KultureCity, the nation’s leading nonprofit on sensory accessibility and acceptance for those with invisible disabilities. The newly remodeled Ben’s Room is now outfitted with 100 percent recycled soundproof carpet along the floor and walls, along with new activity panels, bean bags from Yogibo, visual light panels by Nanoleaf, a Sparkle Interactive Light by NunoErin, which includes therapeutically-fun furniture embedded with soft glowing lights that respond to motion, and bubble walls.
Ben’s Room is located at the Guest Services Center on the Southwest Field Plaza and is open for all full stadium events. Children using the room must be accompanied by an adult. Fans can also check out complimentary sensory toolkits at the SW Guest Services Center Location on the Field Plaza, just south of the Pro Shop. The toolkits include noise-cancelling headphones, ear plugs and sensory toys.
The renovations will make Ben’s Room an even better place for fans with sensory needs to find a quiet, relaxing place on gameday, but another big component of the new changes is the training of gameday staff so they’ll know how to recognize guests with sensory needs.
Los Angles Rams and Chargers
Sensory toolkits are provided for guests of the stadium to use when needed. These tools can help guests self-regulate to reduce the impact of sensory stimuli during their experience. Please visit a Guest Services Center for a toolkit.
MetLife Stadium (NY Jets and NY Giants)
MetLife Stadium has partnered with Kulture City in an effort to provide a more inclusive and comfortable experience for our guests with sensory processing needs. Our team members are trained and certified to recognize opportunities to assist these guests in their enjoyment of our events. We also offer sensory bags containing noise-cancelling headphones, fidget toys and weighted lap pads among other resources for checkout at any Guest Service Booth or Concierge Desk located through the Stadium.
For further information or assistance, please contact our Guest Services Department at (201) 559-1515.
Baltimore Ravens (M&T Bank Stadium)
Our multi-purpose guest service locations in the lower level near sections 100 and 127 provide a space that can be used for both nursing mothers and/or guests with special needs who might need to escape the elements during the game. These spaces are stocked with sensory items such as headphones, toys, etc. allowing a comfortable, quiet, private area for those that need it.
Buffalo Bills (Highmark Stadium)
Bills fans with sensory processing disorders, like autism and post-traumatic stress disorder, will be able to enjoy Bills games even more, as Highmark Stadium is a certified Sensory Inclusive space. The sensory inclusion bags, which provide help if someone were to have a sensory episode, contain a variety of items such as visual cue cards, a lanyard and fidget toys including a stress ball, a mesh tube with a marble in it and a tangle toy. They can be found at each Guest Service booth at Highmark Stadium and can be rented by guests during a game free of charge by presenting their license. Additionally, there will be five weighted pads, located throughout Highmark Stadium, available with the sensory inclusion bags upon request. Highmark Stadium will also have signage located near each Guest Service booth, as well as stickers on the ticket windows, so fans can easily identify the stations as Sensory Inclusive.
- Fireworks are set off with 1-hour to kick-off from the West End Suites roof
- Pyro and smoke take place on the field during player introductions
- Pyro shoots out of flags in all four-corners of the field after a Buffalo Bills touchdown and/or field goals
Cleveland Browns (First Energy Stadium)
First Energy Stadium offers comfort kits to guests with special sensory needs to make their stadium experience more enjoyable. Comfort kits items include, but not limited to, noise cancelling headphones, sunglasses, hand fidget toys, weighted lap pad, etc. Items can be checked out, free of charge, from all Guest Services Locations. A valid driver’s license or major credit card will need to be left as a deposit for the equipment.
In addition, nursing rooms are available for nursing mothers, children with sensory needs, and guests for prayer space. They can be found at the following sections 118, 349, and 514.
Denver Broncos (Empower Field at Mile High)
Empower Field at Mile High is proud to partner with KultureCity to provide sensory bags for guests with sensory needs. The sensory bags include noise cancelling headphones, fidget tools, and a non-verbal communication card. Sensory bags are available for checkout free of charge at each of the Guest Relations centers. A photo I.D. will be required at time of checkout.
NRG Stadium has partnered with KultureCity to ensure the stadium and events we host to be sensory inclusive. This initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all guests and fans with a sensory issue that come to visit. Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over stimulation and noise, which is an enormous part of the environment in a venue like a stadium.
Sensory bags are equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads are now available to all guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. Sensory bags are located at Guest Service at sections 113, 133, 319, 346, 517 & 543.
Indianapolis Colts (Lucas Oil Stadium)
Lucas Oil Stadium is now certified sensory inclusive and offers sensory bags. The bags are equipped with noise cancelling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads for guests who feel overwhelmed, but want to stay engaged in the game or event they are attending. Guests will still have access to a designated quiet space within the stadium if a quieter and more secure environment is needed. Click here for more information.
Jacksonville Jaguars (TIAA Bank Field)
“One out of six Americans actually have a sensory issue,” Mathis said. “It’s not just for individuals with autism. It’s also individuals that have or suffer from PTSD, from anxiety and several other things. So we want to make sure they come to the game and have fun and feel included and are able to enjoy themselves.”
The Jags partnered with Kulture City to improve the ability to accommodate guests with sensory needs.
“In the sensory bags, it has items such as noise-canceling headphones, a feelings thermometer, a few fidget things and then we also have weighted lap pads that guests can use,” Mathis said.
The bags, which are free to use, can be checked out at guest services before the game and must be returned after the game.
During the regular season, a sensory room will be available for those with sensory needs who want or need to take a break or timeout during the game.
Kansas City Chiefs
(GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium)
Sensory kits are available during all major stadium events to help guests self-regulate to reduce the impact of sensory stimuli. Guests may visit Fans First 131, Fans First 341, Fans First 318 or the GEHA Concierge desk to check out a kit, free of charge.
Las Vegas Raiders/ Allegiant Stadium
For guests with sensory processing needs, the following resources and accommodations are available.
Sensory Kits: Allegiant Stadium has partnered with KultureCity to provide sensory kits and bags for guests. Sensory bags are available for guests to check out at any of our guest experience kiosk locations inside the stadium at no cost for individuals. Sensory bags include a VIP lanyard for guest recognition, fidget tools, noise-reducing headphones, and a visual cue card. Writable weighted lap pad with markers are also available as needed.
Sensory Nooks: Allegiant Stadium has two (2) Ford Sensory Nooks available for guests with sensory processing needs. The Ford Sensory Nooks are located on the 050 level inside the Northeast and Northwest Entry lobbies. Ford Sensory Nooks provide an inclusive and comfortable space and are equipped with vibration seating and dim lighting. For more information about the Ford Sensory Nook specifications, please visit nookpod.com/nook/sensory-nook.
Miami Dolphins / Hard Rock Stadium
The Sensory Room, made by possible by The Dan Marino Foundation & Bose Corporation, is located at Section 153 and is a private air-conditioned room for guests with special needs (children or adults) to use as a quiet space. The space has a padded floor, padded wall-mounted equipment and other sensory supplies donated by The Dan Marino Foundation to help ensure a comfortable experience. The room contains a tablet donated by Microsoft to play music, along with several noise cancelling headsets donated by Bose. Additional noise cancelling headsets donated by Bose are available at any of the Guest Experience Headquarters for use during major Hard Rock Stadium events at Sections 115, 143, 215, 243, 315 and 343. A Guest Experience team member may be staffed at the Sensory Room to ensure a comfortable and private experience. Access to the Sensory Room may be limited given the circumstances (e.g., guests with extraordinary needs, demand, etc.) and will be managed by the Guest Experience team member assigned to the Sensory Room. Any children/wards using the Sensory Room MUST be accompanied by a parent/guardian at all times.
Pittsburgh Steelers / Acrisure Stadium
Kulture City Sensory Packs helps fans with special sensory needs feel comfortable and remain engaged during gams and events. Packs provide engaging sensory input on multiple levels to meet the unique needs of users. Packs may be checked out of any Guest Service Room and must be returned at the end of each event.