Jerry Jones has only himself to blame for the Super Debacle. He wanted this to be the biggest, most extravagant Super Bowl ever -- and now he knows how Icarus must have felt.
Hundreds of fans with tickets to the most significant annual cultural event in America showed up on Sunday and were told they didn't actually have seats.
Cowboys Stadium regularly holds around 90,000, including standing room only seats -- an impressive number. But Jones and the NFL wanted to break the Super Bowl attendance record and maximize their profits. So they tried to add an extra 15,000 seats.
They added 1,200 too many.
A press release from the architects upon its opening stated that Cowboys Stadium "has an approximate capacity of up to 100,000 fans." Jones was shooting for 105,000. Turns out the fire marshals hadn't had time to inspect some of the new temporary seating and wouldn't approve it on game day.
How were Jones, the NFL and the organizers not prepared for this? They knew by the middle of last week the seats might not be usable.
So after waiting in interminable lines (some fans waited over 2 hours just to get in), 1,200 fans arrived at their seats to find they had no seats and were then corralled into a pen and told to wait until the Jones, the NFL and the organizers could figure out how to fix their FUBAR.
On Monday, one of those fans wrote to SportsFans.org: "We were shipped to the basement to watch the game on TV. The NFL's offer of 3x face value is totally unacceptable and will not cover our expenses. What other recourse do we have?"
"This is absolutely ridiculous," Glen Long, a Pittsburgh Steelers season-ticket holder told the AP. "That would be fraud anywhere in the world if you sold tickets to an event that you knew you didn't have. That's just wrong."
Taking a page out of the BP handbook, the NFL tried to assuage irate fans -- and deter future lawsuits -- by offering them three times the value of their ticket and giving them tickets to next year's Super Bowl.
You can't blame fans for taking the cash and tickets dangled in front of them - what choice did they have? And some fans might not feel sorry for the affected fans, but these were not corporate executives who were unable to see the game. No, they got to stay in their luxury seats.
These were passionate fans who had made the trip to Dallas with dreams of watching their team play (and hopefully win) the Super Bowl. No amount of money can replace that feeling. That's what Jones and the NFL stole from them.
Maybe the NFL offered the affected fans tickets to next year's Super Bowl figuring that there may not be one anyway. After all, looming over the entire weekend was the labor dispute between the owners and players that may lead to a cancelled 2011 season.
Guess who's leading the owners in their charge to lockout the players?
In part, expensive stadiums.
Here was Jones in an October Bloomberg TV interview:
The billion-two-something that we spend on this stadium I could have done for 800 million. Had a great place for the Dallas Cowboys to play. But I looked at it, I knew those decisions to change the scope of it I would live with for the rest of my life...And I just decided to expand the scope. In my view, the way we're going to get out of the trouble times we're in is to sell our way out. This stadium represents that in my view.
Jones will have to live with his decision to expand the scope of the available seating for the rest of his life.
He wanted his stadium to be the shining jewel that sold the NFL. And here, in front of the most people to ever witness a football game on television, he showed the fans that, in the end, we're the ones who have to pay for it.
Brian Frederick is the Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication and lives in Washington, D.C. Email him at email@example.com.