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NFL, Dallas Cowboys Sued Over Seating at Super Bowl

Some of the 400 temporary seats that were not used since they were not complete are taped off before the Pittsburgh Steelers play against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Photographer: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Some of the 400 temporary seats that were not used since they were not complete are taped off before the Pittsburgh Steelers play against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Photographer: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- The National Football League, the Dallas Cowboys and team owner Jerry Jones were sued by season-ticket holders who say they were promised prime Super Bowl seats and were instead given folding chairs with obstructed views.

Mike Dolabi, who sued on behalf of himself and other fans, said they had paid at least $100,000 for seat licenses at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and were promised seats at Super Bowl XLV with “the best sightlines in the stadium,” according to the complaint filed in federal court in Dallas yesterday.

On game day, the fans found their seats were “temporary metal fold-out chairs” installed in an attempt to break a Super Bowl attendance record, according to the complaint.

“The NFL and Jerry Jones sold something to fans they weren’t able to deliver, and they knew they weren’t able to deliver it,” Michael J. Avenatti, of Eagan Avenatti LLP in Newport Beach, California, who represents the plaintiffs, said in a phone interview.

The NFL, the Cowboys and Jones are accused of breach of contract, fraud, breach of good faith and violating Texas’s deceptive trade practices law. The plaintiffs seek more than $5 million in actual damages, which can be tripled under the state’s trade law, in addition to unspecified punitive damages.

Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, and Brett Daniels, a spokesman for the Cowboys, declined to comment in e-mails.

Insufficient Compensation

The defendants knew last week that 400 additional fans wouldn’t be seated at the Feb. 6 game because their temporary seats hadn’t passed safety inspections, according to the complaint.

The NFL has offered those fans $2,400, triple the face value of their tickets, and a ticket for next year’s Super Bowl, which, according to the lawsuit, is insufficient to make up for travel expenses and the higher-than-face-value prices paid for the tickets.

The NFL made an alternative compensatory offer yesterday, under which the fans can opt for a ticket to any future Super Bowl plus return air fare and hotel accommodation.

The Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to secure a fourth Super Bowl title and record-extending 13th NFL championship. The game was attended by 766 fewer fans than the record 103,985 spectators who saw the Super Bowl in 1980 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The case is Steve Simms v. Jerral “Jerry” Wayne Jones. 3:11-cv-00248-M United States District Court Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Korosec in Dallas at tkorosec@sbcglobal.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net; David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net

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