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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
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NFL Blames Itself|for Super Bowl Fiasco

DALLAS (CN) - National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell told a federal jury Wednesday the league "accepts responsibility" for temporary seating failures at Super Bowl XLV.

A video recording of Goodell's deposition was played Wednesday, the third day of trial in a breach of contract lawsuit brought by seven ticketholders for the January 2011 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

The plaintiffs claim that scores of temporary seats were not installed by kickoff, forcing some fans to watch the game away from the field on video screens while others were given seats with obstructed views .

Goodell testified that the displaced fans he met at the stadium were "very disappointed" about their "bad experience" at the game.

"Everyone [with the league] was fully aware of the consequences and the need to resolve the issue," he said.

Goodell said he was going to meet more displaced fans during the game, but league security discouraged him from doing so because "it wouldn't be safe."

Goodell declined to blame Cowboys officials for the errors, saying he did not want to blame others.

"It was our responsibility," he said.

Plaintiff David Wanta, a Packers fan, testified earlier Wednesday. He told jurors that after his tickets failed to scan at the gate, he feared his tickets were "a scam."

Wanta said he and other displaced ticketholders were escorted and held in a fenced-off area outside the stadium for more than an hour. Tempers flared, he said, and other fans angrily cursed Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Stadium staff finally led them to a crowded, standing-room, field-level club with obstructed views of the field.

"We were at eye level with the Pittsburgh Steelers' butts," Wanta said.

Wanta said would not have spent $800 on his tickets and money on the trip if he had known he would not have a seat. He said he took out a $5,000 loan for the "bucket list" trip.

The NFL offered displaced fans a choice: a free ticket to the next Super Bowl game and $2,400 - three times the face value of their game ticket; or a free ticket to any future Super Bowl game, round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations provided by the NFL.

The plaintiffs say the offer was not enough: that it did not cover all of their travel costs, nor compensate them for their disappointment and frustration.

U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn recessed several hours early Wednesday due to incoming icy weather in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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