Jerry Jones talks about seating fiasco
INDIANAPOLIS -- In his first public comments since the Super Bowl seating fiasco at Cowboys Stadium, Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he shares responsibility for what happened to hundreds of fans who couldn't get proper seating at the $1.2 billion facility.
Just hours before the Green Bay Packers took on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, the NFL announced that 1,250 temporary seats were deemed unsafe and the league moved 850 people to new seats, but 400 fans were forced to watch the game from standing-room-only locations around 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 during a 30-minute interview with Cowboys beat reporters Friday morning. "The informing of the fans that were involved, the NFL and I take responsibility for. You always like to look at areas you can do better, get better. We certainly intend to and will get much better in terms of the seating and how that is handled."
The Super Bowl ended a terrible week for the North Texas area. An ice storm and a blizzard in the same week left roads unsafe and forced the closing of schools and businesses.
Jones, however, said there were many positive aspects surrounding the game and is confident North Texas will get the right to host another Super Bowl in the future.
Yet Jones was mindful of the largest issue inside Cowboys Stadium. One company, Seating Solutions, failed to have the temporary seats in place before kickoff. Another company was asked to complete the job and also could not get the seats installed in time.
Normally, the NFL takes complete control of stadium preparations prior to a Super Bowl, but that didn't happen right away in Dallas. Jones wouldn't get into specifics of when the NFL took control of preparations, but league officials did say stadium officials still were involved in the construction of the temporary seating.
The NFL announced that approximately 2,000 fans in the temporary sections will receive a choice of either a refund of the face value of their ticket or a free ticket to a future Super Bowl of their choice.
Also, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said 400 fans who were denied a seat can choose one free ticket to next year's Super Bowl in Indianapolis plus a cash payment of $2,400, or one free ticket to any Super Bowl plus round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations provided by the league.
There were 13,000 temporary seats installed at Cowboys Stadium, and the Arlington fire marshal inspected and cleared 11,740 for use.
"One thing I would point out is that our stadium is certainly, the concept of the stadium, it was designed for the flexibility of temporary seating," Jones said. "You can note those, but 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. 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 issue prompted at least two lawsuits, filed just days after the game. One suit, on behalf of people who watched the game on TV at Cowboys Stadium, alleges breach of contract, fraud and deceptive sales practices. The lawsuit is pending and the league has had no comment.
Other than the seating and weather issues, Jones said he thought the North Texas area came off looking good and was proud of the North Texas Super Bowl committee's efforts.
"It met the task in my mind, the North Texas effort, both financially as well as effort-wise," Jones said. "It was well-organized, and it was noted throughout the days and the weeks before the Super Bowl. It was really noted by the NFL and many of the people the NFL brings in, contractors and people like that, were really impressed with the structure of our North Texas Super Bowl committee and impressed with how it was executing in many of the things during the days before the Super Bowl when we were dealing with that inordinate weather.
"Many things went right and went to plan, to the extent that we, in any way we were compromised with the weather. I think that the fact that we hadn't had schools closed for four days ever, we hadn't had some of the weather issues we were dealing with, that will always be recognized as an exception for our area relative to future Super Bowls."
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.