Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he shares responsibility with the National Football League for fans left standing at the Super Bowl.
The NFL and Jones added 13,000 seats in temporary bleachers at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the Feb. 6 game in a bid to break the Super Bowl attendance record. Fire marshals allowed 11,740 seats to be used, taking the attendance for the game to 103,219 -- 766 short of the record set at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, in 1980.
Among the displaced fans, 400 watched the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 from television screens inside the stadium.
“I do, along with the NFL, take responsibility for the seating issue and some of the things that we would like to improve on regarding the seating issues,” Jones said yesterday in addressing the situation publicly for the first time since the Feb. 6 game. “We certainly intend to and will get much better in terms of the seating and how that is handled.”
Jones said the $1.2 billion stadium was built to expand attendance with temporary seating.
“We have had several world-class events that were very much enhanced by the way our stadium is designed to increase our capacity by our temporary seating,” Jones told reporters. “So that is not at issue as much as it is evaluating what we did to create the criticism, to create the issue, and to do better in the future.”
The NFL has offered ticketholders $5,000 or a refund of documented expenses, whichever amount is higher. The league originally offered $2,400, triple the face value of the tickets, to each affected fan. It then said fans could alternatively choose one free ticket, along with round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations, to any future Super Bowl.
Lawsuit from Fans
The NFL and Jones also are facing a lawsuit from Cowboys season-ticket holders who say they were promised prime Super Bowl seats and instead were given folding chairs with obstructed views. 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 are seeking more than $5 million in actual damages, which can be tripled under the state’s trade law, in addition to unspecified punitive damages.