Roger Goodell calls Super Bowl seating problems 'a failure on our part'
By Mark Maske
DALLAS--NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday the league accepts responsibility for the installation problems with temporary seating at Cowboys Stadium that caused 400 ticket holders to lose their seats to Sunday's Super Bowl.
Goodell called it "obviously a failure on our part" and said the league will invite the affected fans to next year's Super Bowl in Indianapolis as guests of the NFL.
"We'll be working with them and reaching out to them," Goodell said, speaking to reporters following the morning news conference with the winning coach, Green Bay's Mike McCarthy, and most valuable player, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, of Super Bowl XLV. "But we'll be bringing them to the Super Bowl as a guest of the NFL next year."
Goodell issued an apology during the news conference to the ticket holders who lost their seats. The league announced Sunday that it was giving those fans refunds worth triple the face value of their tickets. The affected ticket holders were brought inside the stadium and were allowed to watch the game on monitors in a field-level club area or from standing-room locations at each corner of the stadium, the NFL announced Sunday.
Goodell said after Monday's news conference that the league would conduct "a thorough review" of the matter.
"We don't have all of the answers... but it was obviously a failure on our part, and we have to take responsibility for that," Goodell said.
Goodell said he didn't hold the Dallas Cowboys responsible.
"We put on this event," Goodell said. "This is a responsibility of the NFL.... We had, obviously, a lot of challenges this week. There were a lot of things we were trying to deal with. But there is no excuse. When you put on an event like this, you know you are going to have those challenges."
Eric Grubman, the league's executive vice president of NFL ventures and business operations, said the problems involved the "final installation of railings, of tightening risers, steps, things of that nature, and that's what did not get completed at the end."
The NFL also relocated about 850 ticket holders from other temporary-seating sections of the stadium to other seats Sunday.
Grubman said the league was aware around the middle of last week that potential problems with the temporary seating areas existed but had been hopeful the issues would be resolved before the game.
"We would have made the call to begin moving those fans and notifying them had we known earlier in the week that we were definitely not going to have" those seats available, Grubman said. "But our objective was to accommodate all our fans safely and in comfort and to have them not have to think about anything other than watching that game."
Goodell said it would have been difficult to notify fans earlier because it was unclear initially how many seats, or which ones, would be affected.
More than 103,000 people attended the game, including those with credentials. Paid attendance was announced at more than 91,000, including those standing outside on a plaza. The total attendance figure fell just shy of the Super Bowl record.
"We had a plan that was approved by the authorities, and we all agreed at the end of day... safety was a paramount concern and we simply ran out of time on a couple of sections," Grubman said. "It's a shared responsibility, but it's our overall responsibility to manage that. We'll have to look very carefully at the key steps along the way, and where we could have done better, and make sure we do a better job next year."
Goodell said preliminary figures indicate that the game will be the most-watched television program in history, surpassing last year's Super Bowl.
The Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25.
February 7, 2011; 1:14 PM ET
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