Two fans caught up in this week’s Super Bowl ticketing/seating mess are suing the NFL and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for $5 million, alleging they were deceived when they bought their tickets to the game.
The two fans, Cowboys season ticket holder Mike Dolabi and Pennsylvania resident Steve Simms, are seeking class action status on behalf of the hundreds of fans who were either shut out of attending the game, or who received seats that they believed were inadequate.
The pair are claiming fraud by the league and Jones, the unofficial host of the game as owner of Cowboys Stadium, because tickets they held for the game ended up being for seats that were either metal folding chairs with obstructed views (Dolabi) or nonexistent (Simms). Simms was one of the 400 fans who were not allowed into the game because the temporary section they were supposed to sit in was not completed in time; he and the other fans watched the game on monitors.
Dolabi, who paid $100,000 for a personal seat license to be part of the Cowboys Stadium “Founders” club, was stuck in an obstructed views section on one of the metal folding chairs.
“Unfortunately, not all of the ticket holders to Super Bowl XLV got what they bargained for or what was promised to them,” the lawsuit states. “Specifically, most of the ‘Founders’ fans, including but not limited to Plaintiff Dolabi, arrived at the stadium on Sunday to discover that Jones and the Cowboys had assigned them to seats with obstructed views and temporary metal fold out chairs, which had been installed in an effort to meet Jones’ goal of breaking the attendance record. In addition, almost all of these seats lacked any reasonable view of the stadium’s prized ‘video board,’ which Defendant Jones and the Cowboys routinely claim is the one of the most unique and best features of Cowboys Stadium.”
Attendance for the Super Bowl ended up falling short of a record, and the league has been scrambling to save face for the seating mix up ever since. It has offered the 400 displaced fans either cash and tickets to next year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis, or an all-expenses-paid trip to a Super Bowl of their choice.
“On Monday, February 7, 2011, Defendants openly conceded that they knew of the seating dilemma earlier in the week and had hoped until hours before kickoff that they could be fixed but failed and refused to advise the ticket holders of the issue until they reached the stadium. Accordingly, these approximate 400 ticket holders were denied seats to the game altogether,” the lawsuit states, and uses apologetic quotes from Jones and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to help back up its claims.