NFL brings 400 seat-less fans inside
League spokesman Brian McCarthy issued a statement shortly after kickoff, saying the fans were allowed into the field-level club behind the Pittsburgh Steelers bench, where they could watch the game on monitors. Or, they could view the game in person on standing-room platforms in each corner of Cowboys Stadium.
The fans also will get a refund equal to triple the face value of the $800 tickets. The temporary seats they were supposed to have were deemed unsafe, leading to an angry scene outside the stadium as those affected were sent to a fenced-off area while officials tried to sort things out.
There were chants of “Jerry Sucks!” and “NFL Sucks!”
An obvious reference to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the Super Bowl host.
One man shouted: “They’re treating us like prisoners.”
Another said, “We came a long way for this.”
“We don’t want (a refund),” said Odett Karam, a Packers fan from California. “We just want to get into the game. We just want to see the game.”
“Jerry (Jones) sold tickets he didn’t own,” said Glen Long, a Steelers fan from Baltimore said. “They call that fraud anywhere in the world.”
In addition to the angry 400, another 850 fans were relocated to unused seats.
The NFL said the people relocated were put in “similar or better seats.” Refunds ranged from ranged from $600 to $1,200, but that might not be enough for folks who paid much more to scalpers, not to mention travel and hotel costs.
Gerry Grillo, from New Jersey, said he paid $3,000 for a ticket with a face value of $600, so he’s among those who lost money.
“Now they’re saying it’s (in an) invalid section ... saying give us three times the face value and go pound salt,” Grillo said.
Seating woes are the latest frustration for the first Super Bowl at Jones’ $1.2 billion showplace.
A rare, severe winter 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 falling from the roof.
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.
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.
“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,” the NFL said in a statement. “We regret the situation and inconvenience that it may have caused. We will conduct a full review of this matter.”
About 15,000 temporary seats were added to the stadium in a bid to set the record for the largest crowd in Super Bowl history. Jones was aiming for more than 105,000, including stadium workers and media, and fans who bought standing room tickets for plazas outside the stadium.
The temporary seats filled open platforms that are usually standing-room only “party pass” areas for Cowboys games. The entryways were on the third level, while the upper deck is on the fifth level.