NFL Aware of Super Bowl Ticket Problems Days Before Game

The NFL knew as early as the middle of last week that seats might not be available for some Super Bowl ticket holders. NFL officials thought they had “a very good shot” at resolving the seat issue, so officials didn’t bother to inform Super Bowl ticket holders until they arrived at Cowboys Stadium the day of the big game.

The <""> affected Super Bowl ticket fiasco left about 400 ticket holders without seats. Cowboys Stadium officials had planned to add 15,000 seats to boost the facility’s capacity — usually about 81,000 — in an effort to break the Super Bowl attendance record. But 1,250 of those Super Bowl seats were not finished on time, and the fire marshal declared them unsafe. While seats were found for 850 ticket holders, 400 could not be accommodated. Those left seatless were eventually sent away to watch the game elsewhere, or invited to watch the game on televisions inside a club at the stadium.

According to, the final installation of railings — as well as the tightening of stairs and risers — was not completed in six sections of temporary seats, officials said. Another 2,000 fans were delayed in getting to their seats because of the installation problems.

Andrew Vasey, a Steelers season-ticket holder from Indianapolis, was among the 400 left without seats. According to, he actually made it to his ticketed seat, only to be told by an usher that it was off limits. He spent two hours trying to get help from NFL officials, but ended up “squatting” around the stadium. Vasey said he missed watching most of the first half of the game.

“This isn’t the community playhouse where someone forgot to put out more folding chairs,” said Vasey, who spent $8,800 on the two tickets. “This is supposedly a professional operation.”

Those left seatless will receive triple the face value of their 2011 tickets, which is $2,400, free merchandise. They were also given free food and beverages during the game, and were allowed to go on the field at Cowboys Stadium after the game, the NFL said. They’ll also get free tickets to next year’s Super Bowl.

The 850 fans who were reseated will receive no refund. But the 2,000 fans who were delayed in getting to their seats will receive a full refund of their tickets, said.

That solution still isn’t sitting well for many ticket holders. Super Bowl tickets for weeks had been in high demand because the game featured two teams – the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers – with fan bases that are among the most passionate in the NFL. For them, the game was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As a result, many of those turned away at Cowboys Stadium had paid far more than the face value for their Super Bowl ticket. They had also spent additional thousands on transportation, food and lodging.

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