Jerry Jones Testy at Super Bowl Ticket Trial

     DALLAS (CN) – Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones faced harsh questioning Tuesday about his determination to set the all-time attendance record at Super Bowl XLV, where scores of fans were booted from the stadium or given seats with obstructed views.
     Lead plaintiff Bruce Ibe and six other ticketholders to the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers at Cowboys Stadium sued the National Football League in 2011.
     They claim temporary seats at the stadium were not installed and cleared by the Arlington fire marshal by game time, resulting in fans being reassigned to areas outside of the stadium or to seats with obstructed views of the field.
     They claim the NFL’s offers for compensation are not enough , as they do not reimburse them for travel costs, disappointment and frustration.
     Their attorney Michael Avenatti, with Eagan Avenatti of Newport Beach, Calif., called Jones to testify on the seventh day of trial.
     Jones appeared relaxed when answering questions about his role with the team and the league, smiling broadly and looking at jurors as he spoke. But he quickly became tense and combative, focusing on Avenatti as the attorney began interrupting Jones’ answers.
     U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn interjected repeatedly during the testy exchange, warning both men to be quiet when she was speaking, and saying, “This is not hand-to-hand combat.”
     Jones told jurors he did not know of the problem with the temporary seats until just before kickoff.
     He said he was aware that the first deadline for installation had passed, but was used to being “put on short notice.” Jones said it was the NFL’s responsibility to make sure the seats were installed properly, but acknowledged that public perception would hold him responsible.
     “No matter what happens at the stadium or with the Cowboys, I will be accountable,” he said.
     Jones’ testimony echoed that of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell , who told jurors last week the league “accepts responsibility” for the seating failures.
     The Cowboys and Jones are no longer parties to the lawsuit.
     In a separate lawsuit in August 2014, Judge Lynn dismissed the Cowboys as a defendant because the game ticket “is a contract only between the NFL and a ticket purchaser.”
     Jones said that his desire for the Super Bowl attendance record did not matter, because the stadium was designed to hold up to 111,000 people.
     “You won’t accept my answer,” Jones said. “The record was automatically broken when we built the stadium.”
     A record 103,985 attended Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in 1980 – a number the 2011 game failed to beat by approximately 700 people.
     Jones agreed that he had told league officials he wanted to break the attendance record, but said the NFL refused his requests to sell more standing-room tickets, as the team does during Dallas Cowboys games.
     He did not deny sending an email message that compared ticket-buyers to “a shark hitting red meat” and that “however many tickets we print, people will buy.”
     “I do not recall saying that,” Jones said. “But it is a true statement.”
     Jones said he did not recall being involved in selecting the game’s temporary seating contractor. He told jurors his son, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, stayed at the stadium the night before the game to observe the seat installations.
     Jones said he is one of the more “hands-on” owners in the league, but that “at the end of the day, all the owners vote” on selecting Super Bowl hosts.
     The tense exchange was punctuated by periods of laughter from the gallery. When first asked about the stadium, Jones deadpanned that it has a football field.
     Judge Lynn teased Jones that he would not be in danger of perjury for calling Avenatti a “sweetheart” for helping him find a passage in an exhibit.
     NFL officials testified last week that they thought all the temporary seats would be installed by kickoff.
     Frank Supovitz, the league’s former senior vice president of events, said the NFL was forced to redirect workers installing 800 seats on game day to work on 2,400 other seats that the fire marshal rejected as unsafe. About 2,000 of those seats were installed and approved, leaving 1,200 incomplete seats.

%d bloggers like this: