Fans Upset; Cowboys Stadium Not Ready for Them

Monday, Feb 14, 2011  |  Updated 4:46 PM CDT
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The seating fiasco during the Super Bowl could prove costly for the <a title=NFL and Jerry Jones if fans decide to sue." />

Ellen Goldberg, NBCDFW.com

The seating fiasco during the Super Bowl could prove costly for the NFL and Jerry Jones if fans decide to sue.

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Fans Furious Over Seating Debacle

Super Bowl XLV took an embarrassing turn Sunday when the league had to find replacement seats for 850 fans.
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Two hours before kickoff on Sunday, Cowboys Stadium wasn't ready for its near-record crowd.

About 1,250 fans were displaced because their seats were deemed unsafe -- 850 were given somewhere else to sit and 400 ended up without a view of the field.

The NFL said the relocated fans were put in "similar or better seats" in the $1.2 billion stadium.

As for the rest, the NFL first offered to let those fans watch the game in the outdoor plazas. Then, shortly after kickoff, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said they had been allowed into the field-level club behind the Pittsburgh Steelers bench, where they could watch the game on monitors.

If they wanted to see the game in person, they had to use standing-room platforms in each corner of Cowboys Stadium. Either way, they will still receive a refund.

McCarthy said the 850 relocated fans were able to be moved because the NFL "routinely" holds tickets in case of problems. The Cowboys and the NFL also returned tickets, he said.

Those who could not get new seats will be given a refund of triple the face value -- however, $2,400 for $800 tickets may not be enough for folks who paid much more to scalpers, not to mention travel and hotel costs.

The NFL originally said the tickets were $900, but McCarthy later said the face value of the seats was $800.

Organizers were hoping flawless game-day logistics would wipe out some of the complaints, but this seating problem could be an issue in the area's plans to bid for the 50th Super Bowl in 2016.

Furious fans chanted "Jerry Sucks"

The seating snafu angered affected fans.

"Jerry sold tickets he didn't own," said Glen Long, a Steelers fan from Baltimore. "They call that fraud anywhere in the world."

The hefty refund offer wasn't enough to satisfy the 400 fans who lost seats.

"They took us to a bar," said Paul Colavecchi, a displaced fan from Clearfield, Pa., who came to Texas with his sister.

"That's terrific," he added sarcastically. "That's why we fronted five grand for this trip -- so we could watch the game in a bar. I didn't have to take a plane trip to Texas to watch the game on TV, and I certainly didn't buy a ticket so I could watch the game in a bar."

Odett Karam, a Packers fan from California, said he didn't want a refund.

Gerry Grillo, from New Jersey, said he paid $3,000 for a ticket on the secondary market, so he would lose money even if he got a refund.

"We've been in a holding area for two hours," he said after finally being let in the stadium. "Two hours!"

While most fans were allowed into the stadium, fans in the affected areas were put into a fenced off area, where they became increasingly unruly. There were chants of "Jerry Sucks!" and "NFL Sucks!"

One man shouted: "They're treating us like prisoners." Another said, "We came a long way for this."

Seats still being installed on game day

As the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers were warming up on the field, workers were still installing temporary seats in the top level of the stadium's west end.

The seats went up so late that the fire marshal didn't have time to inspect them, according to a police officer standing near an affected area who wouldn't give his name and an explanation of the situation provided to several fans.

The officer said the winter storms that struck North Texas earlier had set back work on the temporary seats.

The affected areas were four entryways and two portions of the upper deck on the west end. All were above empty spaces, so the stability of those structures apparently was the issue.

In the upper deck, there were off-limits seats in the same rows as seats that were deemed safe. Yellow police tape was used as a dividing line, with uniformed personnel also keeping folks away.

At 3:58 p.m. the NFL released this statement:

"There are a limited number of sections in temporary seating areas inside the stadium that have not been fully completed. We are working to resolve the matter and expect that by game time most of the fans affected will have been accommodated in their seats or relocated to similar or better seats. 

Those fans that are affected by this will be directed to the Party Plaza area while the matter is resolved.

Fans who are not accommodated with seats inside the stadium will each receive a refund of triple the cost of the face value of their ticket.

We regret the situation."

Ticket holders in those sections were asked to wait in the Party Plaza while work was being finished.

At 4:47 p.m., the NFL released this statement:

"Incomplete installation of temporary seats in a limited number of sections made the seats unusable.

Approximately 850 fans with tickets in sections 205A, 215A, 230A, and 240A were affected and were relocated to similar or better seats.

Four hundred (400) fans in sections 425A and 430A were not able to be accommodated with seats inside the stadium. These fans will each receive a refund of triple the cost of the face value of their ticket. The face value of these tickets is $900.

The safety of fans attending the Super Bowl was paramount in making the decision and the NFL, Dallas Cowboys and City of Arlington officials are in agreement with the resolution.

We regret the situation and inconvenience that it may have caused. We will conduct a full review of this matter."

This is the note being handed to fans who have seats that aren't ready for them:

The latest of JerryWorld's super woes

This is the latest black eye for the hosts following a week of problems caused by rare severe winter weather.

The storm moved into the area Tuesday, ripping holes in tents on the property and hampering travel and celebrations across the region. On Friday, six people at the stadium were injured by melting snow and ice falling from the roof.

Hosts were hoping flawless game-day logistics would wipe out some of the complaints.

At least the weather was better -- blue skies before kickoff with temperatures in the low 50s.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was counting on a crowd of more than 105,000 -- including stadium workers and media -- and fans who bought standing-room tickets for plazas outside the stadium. But a record-breaking crowd did not materialize on game day, with attendance coming in at 103,219.

Associated Press writer Paul Newberry contributed to this report.


Related Coverage:

 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the problems with hundreds of seats at the Super Bowl was "obviously a failure on our behalf," and the league takes responsibility.

Goodell says Monday that "there's no excuses" for fans having to give up their spots in the stands because of structural issues with temporary seating.

NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman says the final installation of railings, risers and steps in certain sections was the problem.

Not so Super seating

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