As we all know, the national take on Super Bowl week was that the NFL, the cities of Arlington and Dallas, as well as the Cowboys dropped the ball for the Big Game in most areas outside of the experience of being in Cowboys Stadium. The unexpected winter storm was a problem all week, but the lack of seating for some paying customers was too much for a few fans. A group of those disgruntled fans have decided to sue the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones and the NFL for more than $5 million in damages.
The lawsuit claims that the powers that be knew days in advance that there was a seating fiasco and did nothing to fix it, or alert fans in advance what they would be faced with. A related gripe comes from a group of Cowboys season ticket holders known as the "Founders". These well-off folks forked out a minimum of $100,000 for seat licenses when the stadium was being built, and it was supposed to guarantee them preferential seating for the Super Bowl. It turns out that those fans were treated as after-thoughts, getting seated in metal folding chairs in obscure locations that couldn't even get a good view of the mammoth scoreboard.
The league has offered the disgruntled fans two options to try and appease them, but it appears not to be enough as the lawsuit has been filed. The NFL is offering either a ticket to next year's Super Bowl and a cash payment of $2,400 (three times the face value of the ticket) or a ticket to any future Super Bowl, along with round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations. I guess the NFL isn't familiar with the American public, because offering anything that even has the sniff of only being 'equal value' is not going to get it done. Super Bowls are big deals, and those are the types of compensation packages you offer if the snafu happened during a regular season game, not something you planned for months or years in advance.
Continue for more:The NFL knows that it screwed up this situation and put Executive VP Eric Grubman on the radio with ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh to try and explain the mix up. The major parts of the interview transcript can be found via sportsradiointerviews.com:
How did this happen?:
“It’s a construction project when you put up these stands, these temporary stands. You put up the outside of the building and then you’ve got to finish it and there’s a lot of detail work and you can’t get the inspections until you do the finished detail work. And we just didn’t get that done. Literally, an hour before the game, we thought we were going to have all the seats and we just didn’t get it done.”
What did they say was too risky?:
“They were there every step of the way. They were there for days because you clear these sections as they get finished. I was there all night on Saturday night and I was there with the inspectors. They bent over backwards to help us to point out things early. … Was I disappointed? Yeah, I was really disappointed. I think of the fans, they’re like my brother. … The safety railings weren’t up, the contractor didn’t finish, they pulled their tools and they were done.”
On fans who are irate over the process:
“It was awful. We made the best of it. We screwed it up, I can’t change that. I’m a football fan and before I worked at the Super Bowl I took my young sons and my father … to see the New York Giants and if that would have happened to me, I would be furious.”
If, given the circumstances, Dallas would be on the list for another Super Bowl:
“It was a regional approach to the Super Bowl and they did a great job and they were great hosts. I tell you, I would go back there again. … I don’t think they took themselves out of the running. Do we plan it better next time? You betcha.”
For the entire interview, you can go here.
It seems that there is a consumer law, breach of contract law, and potentially a fraud law that could be pulled into the fray here. From the post-gazette.com:
The Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act, designed to protect against false or misleading business practices, may provide relief to the fans who had to watch the game from standing-room-only platforms or underground lounges, said Trey Branham, a partner with Dallas-based Goldfarb Branham.
"You sell someone something that is not what you represent it to be," Branham said. "Then you are liable for not only what you sold them but the damages it caused."...
The suit could fall under breach-of-contract law, the deceptive trade practices act or fraud, Branson and Branham said. Under the deceptive trade practices act, the plaintiffs could recover their travel and lodging expenses, as well as what they paid for their tickets as opposed to face value, Branham said. If a court determines the deception was willful or reckless, the plaintiffs are entitled to triple the damages.
"The law says, at least in Texas, that lost experience, that's worth something," he said.
A fraud claim, which Branham said would be difficult to prove, would allow for punitive damages, which he said could be three to five times the actual damages.
"If you sue them both, they would file what's called cross claims against one another," Branson said. "They would fight it out amongst each other [over] who's going to pay what percentage of whatever damage total is found."
it appears that the strategy is to name every one that was involved in the coordination of the event, and then let them argue amongst themselves to which degree each should be held accountable.
Super Bowl Weekend even kicked off with injuries and near tragedy when ice from the winter storm fell on workers preparing for the game. Jerry Jones isn't just a business man, he's a big business visionary and as such, prepares himself for when things go wrong. However, even the most optimistic viewer would say that Jerry could never have expected so much to go south with his North Texas stadium vision.