Jerry Jones wanted to put on the biggest and best Super Bowl ever. Instead, the game at Cowboys Stadium has turned into arguably the worst debacle in Super Bowl history.
The latest? Fans with valid tickets to Super Bowl XLV are being turned away at the doors because the sections of temporary seating they have tickets to have been deemed unsafe by fire marshals. Jones and the NFL wanted to set the all-time Super Bowl attendance record in this game, but apparently that quest didn't include making sure the extra seats were actually ready for use by kickoff.
The NFL says that about 1,250 fans were displaced by the snafu. The league was able to find alternate seats for about 850 of them, but 400 people were sent outside, told they could watch the game on the big screens in the Plaza Party area and given a refund three times the face value of the $900 tickets. Those 400 were later told they could come back into the stadium and watch the game while standing up if they wanted, while still getting the refund, according to an NFL spokesperson.
The refund doesn't take into consideration the fact that many fans bought tickets off brokers for more than three times the face value, cover any travel costs those fans incurred getting to Dallas for the game or get them the experience of seeing a Super Bowl in person (in a seat).
"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," a statement the NFL released on the matter reads. "We regret the situation and inconvenience that it may have caused. We will conduct a full review of this matter."
The temporary seats deemed unsafe were in areas that are usually standing-room only during a typical Cowboys regular season game. After fire marshals determined that the sections weren't built sturdily enough, the sections were blocked off with yellow police tape and eventually black tarps, adding another surreal image to a Super Bowl week full of them.
It's unclear why the sections weren't inspected and approved before Sunday.
Approximately 15,000 temporary seats in all were put into Cowboys Stadium for Super Bowl XLV, part of an attempt to break the all-time attendance record of 103,985 set at the Rose Bowl in 1980.
If the problems with an ice storm and North Texas' inability to clear up the roads wasn't enough of a knock, this seating issue could be the crippling final blow against Jones' bid to host the Super Bowl again in 2016. Any complaints about that 2004 Super Bowl in Houston look awfully minor now.