NFL Fans Sue League and Cowboys Over Seating Issues

February 10, 2011

Super Bowl seating issues took another turn recently after a group of fans revealed that they are suing the National Football League (NFL) and the Dallas Cowboys due to being denied seats to last weekend’s ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ despite having paid thousands of dollars for tickets.

The lawsuit was filed after the league admitted to mistakes that left about 400 paying supporters unable to watch Super Bowl XLV in person, and other Cowboys’ season ticket-holders watching from temporary metal chairs with obstructed views.

Fans filed the lawsuit late on Tuesday (February 8) in federal court in Dallas, accusing the league and team of breach of contract, fraud and deceptive trade practices and are seeking class-action status, more than US$5m of damages and unspecified punitive damages.

The league had invited the 400 affected fans who paid for tickets but did not get a seat at the game to a future Super Bowl of their choice and also offered the choice of a cash payment of $2,400 – three times the face value of the ticket – or round-trip airfare and a hotel. 

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated: “We are ultimately responsible for the fan experience and we want it to be the best it can possibly be.” 

The lawsuit contended that the NFL knew of seating problems before the game, but failed to tell fans in advance. It also accused Cowboys owner Jerry Jones of causing the problems with the hope of setting a Super Bowl attendance record. He fell short by 766, after some temporary seats were deemed unusable. In his attempts to break records, Jones efforts saw many fans ending up watching the game in standing-only positions.

The lawsuit also accused Jones of deceiving Cowboys season ticket-holders known as ‘founders’ into paying $1,200 a seat for Super Bowl tickets, only to be offered temporary metal fold-out chairs, many with obstructed views of the field and the stadium’s giant overhead video board.

Lead attorney Michael Avenatti told Reuters: “Frankly, it is astounding to us that the Cowboys and the NFL would treat its fans like this. What is perhaps even more amazing is that they still haven’t done the right thing.”