Latest Dallas Super Bowl Fiasco: Not Enough Seats!
About two hours before kickoff, the NFL issued a statement saying that some of the temporary seating sections being installed for the game weren't yet finished.
"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," the statement read. "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."
The seats at issue are apparently in new sections that were being set up just for this game. But in spite of the Cowboys not having played a home game in 50 days and this game having been scheduled four years ago, somehow not all of the seats have actually been set up. Several sections of temporary seating remained covered in black tarps with less than two hours left before the game's scheduled kickoff. NFL spokesperson Michael Signora said the seats in question cost $900 apiece -- the NFL said that while a total of 1,250 seats were initially affected, 850 people were relocated to similar or better seats and 400 fans were told they would not be accommodated. The league said those 400 would each receive $2,700, which is three times the face value of their ticket.
"It easily cost us $10,000 dollars, between plane tickets, staying here, taking time off. And they want to give us three times the ticket value?" asked Matthew Rush (pictured above), a longtime Steelers season-ticket holder who was expecting to attend his third Steelers Super Bowl in the last five years.
"They talk about the 'NFL Experience,' but our NFL experience, quite frankly, sucked."
Rush said they were herded like Texas cattle from Cowboys Stadium to the neighboring Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and back before they were finally allowed inside the gate.
"We had people with us that are handicapped, who are elderly. We have literally been here since 2:30 and we still have no clue of what's going on,'' Steeler fan Michael Moore said about a half hour before kickoff.
Once there, they received a single form letter (right), with no letterhead, informing them they would not have a seat that they had already paid for.
"Please be advised," the letter read, "that due to unforeseen conditions, the installation of temporary seating for Super Bowl XLV was not fully completed and your assigned seat is unavailable for today's game. The NFL and Cowboys Stadium sincerely regret this inconvenience."
"That's it, no explanation, nothing, Rush said.
Rush said that a website, SuperBowlsuit.com, has already been started and class action suit would soon follow.
"It wasn't about the money," Rush said. "It was about being here to support our team. But we are going to make it about the money."
The NFL said the 400 fans in sections 425A and 430A that were not able to be accommodated with seats were taken inside the stadium to watch the game on monitors in the North Field Club behind the Pittsburgh bench. They also had the option of viewing the game from standing room platforms in each corner of the stadium.
"I could have stayed home and watched the game and saved a lot of money," Rush said.
The league said it routinely holds back tickets for games in the event problems should arise. The Cowboys and the NFL itself also returned tickets
Earlier in the day, fans arriving at the game were dealing with major traffic and other logistical issues getting to the stadium because four entrances remained closed due to the possibility of snow and ice sliding off the stadium roof. Workers were injured last week when snow and ice slid off the roof and crashed to the ground while the stadium was being prepared for the game.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who spent $1.2 billion to build this stadium, had been hoping to set a Super Bowl attendance record and show off the building in front of a worldwide audience. Instead, the entire week has been a complete embarrassment to Jones, the NFL and communities involved. The Super Bowl will surely return here someday, but it'll be because of corporate money and the quality of the stadium -- not because anybody did anything right here in 2011.
-- FanHouse's Matt Romanoski and Dave Goldberg contributed to this report.
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