This week’s L13 Dumbass award goes to the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys and Cowboys Stadium owner, Jerry Jones who allowed the NFL’s premier event, Super Bowl XLV to be sullied by a shabby cock-up over ticketing arrangements … or at least to the individuals responsible for allowing the sale of over around 1,200 tickets for seats that had not been certified ‘safe’ and so could not be used on the day.
This for an event that was watched by an average TV audience of 111 million (162.9 million at its peak).
So keen was Mr Jones that his sparkling new stadium set a new Super Bowl attendance record that he even lobbied to have counted in the attendance figure the thousands of fans opting to pay $200 per person to stand outside the stadium and watch the game on TV.
Unabashed by any league rebuttal at that request he also set about the more businesslike tactic of using every possible square foot of viewing space in the newly built stadium; erecting temporary seating to squeeze in more bums. All that was needed was the required civic certification of safety; it was never obtained.
Eight hundred of the 1,200 people who turned-up to find they had no seats were reseated in seats vacated by league and club staff; four hundred were taken to a field level club house with little view of the game.
Either of the following:
- One free ticket to next year’s Super Bowl game plus $2,400 (3 x face-value of the Super Bowl XLV ticket – transferable)
- One free ticket to a future Super Bowl game of the fan’s choice + airfare + hotel (non-transferable).
Now, despite making a compensatory offer to the disgruntled fans, which they subsequently beefed-up after initial reaction, the NFL and the Cowboys are facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit from a significant number of the 1,200 fans affected by the farce. The class action law suit alleges fraud, deceptive sales practices and breach of contract.
Although on the face of it the NFL offer seems generous, it has to be borne in mind that face-value is mostly a moot term in respect of Super Bowl tickets since few if any trade at that price, furthermore many of the people will have faced significant travel expenses in getting to and staying in the vicinity of the stadium for the game.
USA Today reports that “… the lawsuit covers 1,000 fans, 600 of whom are in Cowboys Stadium’s Founders group and were placed in obstructed-view seats on Sunday. Each Founder paid $100,000 for a personal seat license and the right to buy season tickets when the venue opened in 2009.”
$100,000 for the PSL is a chunky sum of cash; you might expect more than an obstructed view huh? Those PSL are reputed to have earned the Cowboys around $100 million.
So instead of basking in the warm glow of a Super Bowl, which capped a season that broke viewing figure records regularly, the NFL and the Cowboys can look to a long and expensive courtroom and PR battle.