(CN) — The National Football League was hit with a class-action lawsuit Thursday over the cancellation of this year’s Hall of Fame Game, just four days after the game was called off due to unsafe field conditions.
Lead plaintiff Alan Biland says he and his wife travelled seven hours from Wisconsin to Canton, Ohio, see the Green Bay Packers take on the Indianapolis Colts in the first NFL preseason game of the year.
He says he paid for tickets, travel expenses and $72 for parking, and also bought concessions, before being told the Aug. 7 game was canceled.
Biland and three others — Matthew Crabb, Tiffany Ratcliff and Carmelo Treviso — filed a class action against the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Northern Ohio Federal Court.
“Hours before the game was to start, the grounds crew, under the direction and supervision of defendants, applied paint for the midfield logo and endzone lettering onto the field. When the grounds crew determined the paint was not drying quickly enough, they heated the field to try to speed up the process. Instead of rectifying the problem, this resulted in the melting of the rubber pellets that comprise the FieldTurf, creating a large slick, sticky, and congealed areas within the playing surface,” the complaint states.
Stadium workers tried to apply a substance to fix the problem with the field, but a Packers employee noticed that the substance’s label warned of “burns upon skin contact,” according to the Aug. 11 lawsuit.
“Even though the Colts and Packers were told the game had been cancelled at around 6:40 p.m., on information and belief, defendants purposely told the fans nothing. Instead, the scoreboard continued to tick down to an 8 p.m. kickoff that never happened,” the complaint states. “On information and belief, by design, defendants allowed and encouraged fans to continue to purchase food, beverages, and souvenirs at the stadium as they waited for a game that would never start, and defendants did so in the interest of money.”
The lawsuit alleges the NFL has a history of mismanaging stadiums.
“For example, in 2011 the NFL held Super Bowl XLV and placed ticketholders in temporary seats with obstructed views. Other ticketholders were unreasonably delayed, relocated or completely displaced from their seats as a result of the incomplete installation of temporary seats, which were deemed unsafe and unusable by the local fire marshall,” the plaintiffs claim.
Biland, Crabb, Ratcliff and Treviso brought the lawsuit on behalf of two classes: those who bought tickets to the 2016 NFL Hall of Fame Game, and those who bought tickets “but did not in fact receive seats.”
The plaintiffs seek at least $5 million for breach of contract. They are represented by Romney Cullers of the Becker Law Firm in Elyria, Ohio, and by Michael Avenatti of Eagan Avenatti in Newport Beach, Calif.
The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment emailed Friday.
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