The National Football League will provide free tickets to next year’s Super Bowl, plus $2,400 each to about 400 fans who were barred from temporary seating at yesterday’s championship game.
The NFL and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones were trying to break the Super Bowl mark of 103,985, set at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, in 1980, by putting in temporary stands above the end zones, along the sidelines and selling standing-room only tickets for stairwells. Not all the work was completed and some of the seats remained vacant because of safety concerns.
The announced attendance at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the Green Bay Packers’ 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers was 103,219.
“We apologize to those fans that were impacted by this,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at a press briefing this morning. “We will certainly do a thorough review and get to the bottom of why it all occurred, but we take full responsibility for that.”
The NFL offered fans who couldn’t be placed in other seats a spot to watch the game on television, had them on the field during the postgame celebration, gave them free food, beverages and merchandise, and offered to refund three times the value of their $800 tickets, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an e-mail.
Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson said today that he told NFL officials about three hours before kickoff that a lack of handrails leading to raised sections of bleachers would keep almost 500 of the seats closed, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
“We were hopeful work would be completed, but it was not,” Crowson told the newspaper. “When it became apparent the stairs were not going to be completed, we told the NFL those seats were not going to be in use.”
One ticket holder said she had received conflicting instructions on getting a refund.
Amanda Saldana, 24, a dental assistant from San Antonio said she received two letters from “official looking people” claiming to be affiliated with either the NFL or Cowboys Stadium.
One letter offered to refund her $800 ticket at face value and another offered triple the value of her ticket, or $2,400. Both said she had to send her tickets to the NFL for a refund. She also said that while she was standing in line to get into the stadium yesterday, her grandmother died after being in a coma.
“I’m not sure what to do,” Saldana said in a telephone interview. “I don’t want to give the ticket back because it was my first Super Bowl, and my grandmother died. And now there are these two letters, and I’m not sure which to believe.”
Jan Lamers, 52, a Packers’ shareholder from Appleton, Wisconsin, said in a telephone interview today that she and her family had been able to sit in vacant seats, though not the ones they paid for. She said they were traveling to Wisconsin and hadn’t been able to discuss a refund with the NFL.
“We did get to see the game, we’re happy the Packers won,” she said.
McCarthy said in a separate e-mail that the league was still putting together a procedure to let fans know how to get their money back.
“We were able to gather contact information from a number of fans on-site,” he said. “We are finalizing plans and procedures to contact all fans who are due refunds.”
Goodell said today at the news conference that he understood why the fans were upset at not being able to have seats in the stadium.
“And for the 400 that we were unable to relocate into seats in the bowl, we are going to be reaching out to them and we’ll be inviting them to the Super Bowl next year,” the commissioner said.
The next Super Bowl is scheduled for Feb. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.