Fiserv Forum was built with intention – to be the friendliest and most welcoming venue in the world.
Jill Barry, director of guest experience, and her staff are helping to manifest that mission every day.
Jill has had a passion for sports since she was a child growing up in Springfield, VA. She has worked for the National Football League, the Women’s World Cup, the BMO Harris Bradley Center, sports radio and many other athletic related organizations.
When the Milwaukee Bucks announced plans to construct a new arena, Jill knew she wanted to be a part of the process. She was hired on as a part-time employee and upon the departure of a former co-worker she applied for the director of guest experience role and has held that title since July 2018.
Part of Jill’s role is to make sure guests of Fiserv Forum have access to anything they might need during their time at the arena. And with over 1.5 million people visiting since August of 2018, Jill and her staff have quite the task but take a proactive approach to accommodation.
There is a call-in option available to guests to utilize before they arrive to arrange any services they might require. When this occurs, Fiserv Forum’s guest service representatives are prepared to meet and greet the guest right at the doors with everything they’ve requested.
Guest service representatives are also stationed at Fiserv Forum’s Juneau Avenue entrance off of Sixth St. to be on the lookout for guests who may require additional assistance but who have not called ahead. The guest service representatives have been trained on how to best have conversations with guests who may need additional assistance to figure out what level of service they prefer. Guest services team members are equipped with access to wheelchairs, elevators, and they have the ability to relocate seats if needed.
Every floor of Fiserv Forum is equipped with accessible seating platforms, drink rails, and loge tables. These seating options are specifically designed for visitors utilizing a wheelchair and intentionally built on every floor in multiple locations so that guests feel welcome in every part of the arena.
Every restroom built in the arena is accessible, with options for gender-neutral accommodations, and offers changing tables for children. There is also an adult changing table available in one of the wellness rooms, which is located in Section 113, and is one of seven wellness rooms available throughout the arena. These wellness rooms are designed for nursing mothers and for guests who may need to get away from the action for a moment.
In addition, Fiserv Forum has two sensory rooms, located outside of sections 109 and 212, which are available for use during events for any amount of time. Jill notes that the arena is “the only venue in the NBA that has not one, but two sensory rooms.” Fiserv Forum’s team has taken sensory inclusion to another level with these two rooms, but also through their partnership with KultureCity.
KultureCity is a nonprofit organization rethinking accessibility “to create acceptance and inclusion for all individuals with unique abilities.” Jill and her team worked with KultureCity to have sensory bags available for checkout during events at the Concierge Desks. These bags come with a variety of items:
- A special VIP lanyard so that staff is able to see individuals who have sensory needs
- A laminated mood thermometer for nonverbal guests to utilize to let staff know how they are feeling
- A laminated “I need…” card so that guests can point to what they need in that moment
- Noise-canceling headphones
- Fidget toys
More than 800 Fiserv Forum employees across all departments have gone through sensory specific training.
The arena also has Assistive Listening Devices for checkout, the ability to do open captioning for all Milwaukee Bucks games, and it also has a live interpreter available for all events that happen in the arena. They are also “the only team in sports that provides a sign language interpreter for post-game press conferences,” Jill says.
Many other Milwaukee facilities have followed in the arena’s footsteps, offering more inclusive amenities for their patrons, as well.
With all of these accessibility options and inclusive features, it is no surprise that Fiserv Forum is receiving positive feedback and recognition for their efforts. On Nov. 6, 2019, Independence First honored Fiserv Forum and the Milwaukee Bucks with the Accessibility Award for their intentional designs in creating a venue that is accessible for individuals of all abilities.