Jerry Jones’ Super Bowl 45 Seating Fiasco Cost the NFL Millions of Dollars

Jerry Jones prides himself as the owner of one of the NFL’s marquee franchises in the Dallas Cowboys. Jones has exuded that boastful attitude concerning his team through the state-of-the-art AT&T Stadium that his team calls home. However, the longtime Cowboys owner had to deal with some financial headaches from a massive blunder at Super Bowl 45 years ago.

Jerry Jones hosts Super Bowl 45 at AT&T Stadium

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Since its completion in May 2009, AT&T Stadium has been one of the most widely used sports venues in the country.

The Dallas Cowboys host home games at the grand stadium nicknamed “Jerry’s World” after team owner Jerry Jones. The arena annually holds major events outside of the NFL, such as the Big-12 Championship Game, prime-time boxing cards, WrestleMania 32, and the 2010 NBA All-Star Game.

Shortly after it opened, the Cowboys earned the honor of hosting Super Bowl 45. Although Dallas failed to reach the game, the organization took in stride the opportunity to showcase its venue.

The matchup featured the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, who possess two of the most passionate fan bases. The game turned out to be one of the more entertaining Super Bowl matchups with Aaron Rodgers guiding the Packers to their fourth championship.

The product on the field was top-notch, but problems arose for Jerry Jones with how things transpired in the stadium.

Problems arise with seating at Super Bowl 45

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In preparation for Super Bowl 45, Jerry Jones worked to increase the arena seating from 80,000 to 105,000 to break the NFL seating record for the contest.

In the last-minute effort, problems arose as construction workers attempted to add seats during an ice storm. The situation resulted in seven workers suffering injuries due to ice sliding off the stadium roof.

The issues didn’t stop there as 1,200 seats became blocked off mere hours before the game due to a safety hazard. Local law enforcement ruled that the seating wasn’t completed in time for the fire marshal to inspect the area.

The situation led to nearly 800 people being given other seats inside the stadium while the remaining 400 people were unable to get a seat. The NFL handed them a letter that stated they could exchange their tickets for three times the face value.

The select group also had the option to watch the game on a TV in one of the stadium lounges away from the field. They received free tickets to the next Super Bowl. But it didn’t take long for the situation to take another discouraging turn for Jerry Jones and the NFL.

Court awards $76,000 to seven fans, millions paid in attorney fees

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The headache for Jerry Jones and the NFL only grew larger in the years that followed as several lawsuits were filed due to the Super Bowl seating fiasco.

One featured seven fans suing the league, which led to a two-week trial that saw NFL officials and Jones testify, during which they expressed regret over the situation. The league took responsibility for the entire matter, but the seven fans rejected settlement offers of reimbursement and tickets to the following Super Bowl.

The case resulted in the jury ruling in favor of the fans due to the NFL breaching the ticket contract and the failure to have temporary seating available. The seven fans were awarded around $76,000, ranging from $5,700 to $22,000 per person.

This lawsuit stemmed from the initial case that occurred in early 2013 and was dismissed in May 2017 after both parties filed an agreed motion to dismiss the case. The plaintiffs in the case initially hoped to get nearly $5 million in damages. It is estimated that by August 2016, the league spent more than $20 million in attorney fees concerning the Super Bowl 45 seating situation.