Fans get Super Bowl tix for next year

Updated: February 7, 2011, 7:21 PM ET
ESPNDallas.com

Fans displaced by seating issues for Sunday night's Super Bowl get another chance next year.

The 400 people without seats will be "guests of the NFL" at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, commissioner Roger Goodell said on Monday. The fans also received triple the face value of their 2011 tickets, which is $2,400, free merchandise, food and beverages, and were allowed to go on the field at Cowboys Stadium after the game.

Goodell said the problems with the seats were "obviously a failure on our behalf," and the league takes responsibility.

"Any time you put on an event of this magnitude, you have your challenges," Goodell said in a statement. "We apologize to those fans that were impacted. We are going to work with them and we are going to do better in the future. We will certainly do a thorough review and get to the bottom of why it all occurred, but we take full responsibility for that as putting on this game.

"But the one thing we will never do is compromise safety -- safety for our fans, safety for our players, anyone involved with our event."

Goodell said "there's no excuses" for fans having to give up their spots in the stands because of structural issues with temporary seating.

When asked if North Texas will get to host another Super Bowl in the future, Goodell applauded the efforts of the host committee.

Super Bowl seats
AP Photo/Chris O'MearaA section of empty seats are seen at Cowboys Stadium before Super Bowl XLV. The temporary seats weren't completed and were deemed unsafe.

"Sure, it's a membership vote, but I think they did an outstanding job," Goodell said. "It was a great event, and I'm sure that they'll be seeking another Super Bowl. I'm sure the ownership will look at that very seriously."

"At the end of the day, the game on the field, and the stadium where it was played, exceeded the high level of expectation that the Super Bowl presents," Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement. "It was a great game in a great venue, and it was an experience that will begin the process of bringing future Super Bowls to North Texas.

"Our region displayed the type of tremendous commitment of resources, services, enthusiasm, and hospitality that validates our community as a most worthy home to this wonderful event in the years to come."

NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said the final installation of railings, risers and steps in certain sections was the problem, but that none of the design was added at the last minute. He said the problem was strictly an installation issue.

"We had a plan that was approved by the authorities, and ... safety was a paramount concern," Grubman said. "We simply ran out of time on a couple of sections. It's a shared responsibility, but it's our overall responsibility to manage that.

"The fire marshal did not step in late, neither did the police. They were there with us every step of the way. We were in consultation with them. We were in agreement with them. There were no disputes. Everybody was looking at it the same way. In fact, what they did helped us gain time to try to get it done, and at the end, we just ran out of time."

Two hours before the game, workers were frantically trying to fix the sections or get the fans "relocated to similar or better seats," valued at $800. The NFL found alternate seating for 850 of the 1,250 fans affected.

"We made a judgment that we had a very good shot to be able to complete it," Grubman said. "We made a judgment that it was the right course of action to bring the fans in, rather than discourage them, or create a sense that they wouldn't have the information necessary."

The NFL tried to placate those 400 fans, taking them 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. Those fans will still get the triple refund.

After saying all week that he expected Sunday's game to set an all-time Super Bowl attendance record with 105,000 fans seated inside the stadium, Jones came up short as the announced attendance of 103,219 was just shy of the 103,985 mark set in Super Bowl XIV between the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers at the Rose Bowl.

Based on the 850 seats that were forfeited by the NFL and Cowboys to make room for those who were relocated, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed Sunday that the seating debacle was the reason the attendance record was not set.

"The attendance record was not the goal," Grubman said. "The goal was to use this great building in a way that showcased the NFL, showcased North Texas and showcased some great players that we have in the NFL. And if we can come up with a better installation plan for a future event, we'll do that."

Stadium workers were covering the top corner sections of the upper deck behind one end zone two hours prior to kickoff.

There were off-limits seats in the same upper-deck rows as seats that were deemed safe. Yellow police tape was used as a dividing line, with uniformed personnel also keeping folks away.

The fans affected were directed to the Party Plaza area, which is located outside the stadium for the Super Bowl.

The temporary-seating sections were erected in what is usually an open area. Fans can purchase $29 "Party Passes" to stand in the open areas during Cowboys games.

There was other bad news for the first Super Bowl in the Dallas area.

A rare winter storm swept across the area Tuesday, ripping holes in tents on stadium property and hampering travel and celebrations across the region. On Friday, six people at the stadium were injured by melting snow falling from the stadium roof.

Information from ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins, Tim MacMahon and Todd Archer, ESPNNewYork.com's Jane McManus, ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert and Liz Merrill and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ALSO SEE

MORE NFL HEADLINES