By Tom Mustin

DENVER (CBS4)– Red Rocks Amphitheatre is making changes to its seating and ticketing policies. The goal is to give fans in wheelchairs fair access to a good seat.

The change comes nearly a year after a federal discrimination lawsuit was filed against the City of Denver by several mobility-impaired residents.

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A purple hue over fans during an all-star tribute concert for Prince at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on May 12, 2016. The Denver Film Society showed the film “Purple Rain.” (credit: Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)

They argued the wheelchair-accessible seats in the front are often sold to people without disabilities.

“It will make it more worthwhile to go to a show there.”

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CBS4’s Tom Mustin interviews Gil Casarez (credit: CBS)

Music lover Gil Casarez is excited about the new ticketing and seating policy at Red Rocks.

“That’s one of my favorite places,” he told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.

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(credit: CBS)

Gil has been in wheelchair for 30 years. At his last concert at Red Rocks, he sat in row 70, and watched people partying in the front row wheelchair-accessible section.

“There was a lot of people that were standing up there. I barely saw any wheelchairs, but we were sitting way at the top,” he said.

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(credit: CBS)

Those days are over. Starting in 2018, tickets purchased for events in the first four rows, including front row seats for the mobility impaired, can only be used by the person who bought them.

There are two designated sections for wheelchair accessibility, the last row and the front row. Of the 9,500 seats, 78 are wheelchair accessible. Historically, the front row seats have not been reserved for people with disabilities.

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(credit: CBS)

“Those tickets are no longer transferable. So if you buy those tickets, you’re the one that has to show up in those seats,” said Brian Kitts with Denver Arts and Venues.

Kitts says the tickets can no longer be sold on secondary markets like StubHub or Craigslist and must be purchased on Flash Seats, an online service that delivers tickets digitally to the buyer.

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CBS4’s Tom Mustin interviews Brian Kitts with Denver Arts and Venues (credit: CBS)

Buyers can have up to three guests with them. All have to enter the venue together.

“You have to attest when you buy that ticket that you do need that ticket, that you are in a wheelchair and do have some mobility impairment,” said Kitts.

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(credit: CBS)

Trained staff will also be on hand at Red Rocks to verify IDs for people seated in the first four rows.

Kitts says a lawsuit filed on behalf of the mobility-impaired and scalping complaints prompted the change.

It’s a move that Casarez says is music to his ears, “I’ll be able to enjoy performances on an equal level, where you’ll be able to hear the performance as well as watch it.”

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(credit: CBS)

Attorney Alison Butler says she expects the lawsuit to be settled by the end of the year. The changes at Red Rocks will take place Feb. 1, 2018.

Tom Mustin is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor. He has been with CBS4 since 2002, and is always looking for great story ideas. Connect with Tom on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @TomCBS4.

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