At Super Bowl XLV, the NFL showed what they actually think of real NFL fans and where we are on their list of priorities. Apparently, it is in the basement. In a story that’s gotten some press but nearly not enough, The House That Jerry Built sold over 1,000 more tickets than they had seats for. Some would call that fraud, but when you’re a billion dollar juggernaut like the NFL, you can call it an “oversight.”
Of course the 1,250 ticket holders who seats weren’t ready for the game weren’t NFL sponsors, media members or PSL owners from Dallas; most of them were the “lucky” winners of their team’s lottery of Super Bowl tickets. They magically found seats for 850 of the fans, but exiled the rest into a “Club” in the basement. And I know what your thinking, “Well, the NFL has offered to pay them three times face value of their ticket AND give them tickets to next year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis that sounds pretty fair to me!” But let me ask you this Eagles fan: Let’s say you walked up to the gate for Super Bowl XXIX for the Eagles-Patriots game with a ticket in hand, and were told you didn’t have a seat but you can go to next years game of the Seahawks-Steelers. Would that make everything all right? I didn’t think so. Even if they offered me ten times what I had paid. (Keep in mind this is from the point of view before the game.)
Here’s the key piece of information that most people don’t know and is being severely under reported. The NFL knew that these seats may not be finished LAST TUESDAY. That’s right. This wasn’t an issue that suddenly popped up on game day that the league and the stadium had to rush to figure out a solution. This was something they could have been working on for six days to correct. But they thought they “might” be done in time.
They were, however, quick to come up with the free ticket to next year’s Super Bowl and 3x face for their tickets when the news finally broke and it was becoming ugly for the league, but why didn’t they simply have a two-hour meeting on Wednesday to discuss solutions? Like alerting ticket holders? Or having a special area set up with free food and drinks in advance? Having guest services representatives at the few gates that were open to explain the situation to the fans and escort them to the “Club”? (I’m not even going to bother to point out that some fans probably paid more than 3x face for their tickets plus all the travel expenses.)
If you consider yourself a real football fan and you want to see what the NFL really thinks of you, please take the time to read this account by Brad Powell, a life long Steelers fan who got screwed out of a seat at the game.
To summarize, Brad and his brother got to the stadium at 2:30 and waited in line for an hour and a half, then was told his ticket was invalid and there was a problem with his section. They were sent to a ticket resolution center and eventually told their tickets were now valid but they had to get back in line. By 5:00 they were finally allowed in the stadium and directed to a freight elevator to a “club” below the field and behind the Steelers bench.
They was no view of the field and they had to watch the game on television. There was nowhere to sit until the end of the first quarter and no contact from anyone in the NFL or guest services until halftime. Then a couple “suits from the NFL” showed up and told them about the 3x face refund and tickets to next year’s Super Bowl but answered no question. (Feel the Love!) There was no food available and the beers were still $10. As for “ALL the fans” being allowed on field after the game, apparently that’s a lie too. A few fans were, but not all.
The NFL and Jerry Jones had 59 days to prepare for the Super Bowl. Jerry wanted to put on a special show that would always be remembered. I’m sure he had his fingers in every decadent detail. But as for the nuts and bolts of the game, making sure the field was in peak condition (which it wasn’t, how many slips did you see?), and that there was a seat for every ticket sold, those details would just work themselves out. He was probably too busy polishing Will.IAm’s robot hat for that unimportant stuff.
Another issue that this incident highlights is how powerful the NFL PR Machine is and what a good job doing of trying to swallow this story. Of course they had the biggest sports story of the year going on the same time to help them, but the Fox pre-game show only mentioned this story once. I haven’t seen Sportscenter’s take on it, but I’m sure they are highlighting the fans compensation and not the horror stories. And it was the PTI guys who got me the most enraged about this issue. They said the fans have gotten compensated more than enough and need to shut up. It shows how out of touch they are with actual fans. Those Packers and Steelers fans don’t care about the money, they were there for the experience.
With a lockout looming and the owners and players getting ready to destroy the golden goose over money and ego, these 400 fans locked in the basement while Cameron Diaz fed A-Rod popcorn during the game couldn’t be a better analogy for how the NFL feels about its real fans. It’s nice to know where we stand. Thank you, Mr. Goodell. Thank you, Mr. Jones. The worst part is they know that they have us hooked like addicts and no matter what shit they pull, we’ll be back looking for them at their corners again next season for our fix. (Whenever that is.)