Dallas – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this morning took full responsibility for the ticket problems that forced 400 fans to miss a chance to watch Super Bowl XLV from inside Cowboys Stadium.
“It’s obviously a failure on our part, and we have to take responsibility for that,” Goodell told reporters this morning, after he introduced Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Goodell said the fans who couldn’t sit inside the stadium would be reimbursed for three times the face value of their tickets, and would be invited to next year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis at no cost. He didn’t specify whether travel arrangements would be paid for by the NFL if those fans wanted to see next year’s game.
“For the 400 people who couldn’t get into the [stadium] bowl, we’re going to be reaching out to them and inviting them to the Super Bowl next year,” he said. “We’ll bring them to the Super Bowl as guests of the NFL.”
Eric Grubman, the league’s senior vice president of business ventures, said the league was aware of the potential for ticket problems by the middle of last week. The installation of some temporary seats was at issue, as inspectors from the Arlington police and fire departments determined some seats couldn’t be used because of potential safety problems.
“Safety was of paramount concern, and we simply ran out of time on a couple of sections,” Grubman said. “The fire marshall did not step in late, nor 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. In fact, what they did helped us gain time to try to get it done. At the end, we just ran out of time."
Grubman said there were no “vertical structural” issues. However, “there was a final installation of railings, tightening risers, steps, things of that nature. That’s what did not get completed.”
The league considered informing fans well before the game of the potential problem, but Goodell and Grubman said they were uncertain exactly which seats would potentially be eliminated. The decision was then made to inform fans once they got to the game that their seats might not be available.
In addition, entry into the stadium was delayed for most fans because four of 10 entrances were closed off because of ice that remained on the roof of the stadium. An ice storm hit the Dallas-Forth Worth area late Monday, and additional snow later in the week compounded the problem. Six people were injured on Friday by falling ice from the stadium roof.
Asked about the possibility that some fans would sue the NFL over what happened, Goodell said: "We're more concerned we take care of the fans in an appropriate way."