Photo: Tarra Brotz
After reading the account that we published last week from a Super Bowl fan who was a victim of the Cowboys Stadium ticket snafu, another fan reached out to us to tell her story … with a guest appearance by the one and only MC Hammer!Again, we’ll just let Tarra tell the story in her own words. (You can read more about what the NFL is trying to do to make up for it here and here.)
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Our experience in Dallas wasn’t quite as we had hoped. We felt very lucky to have tickets to this monumental game where records would be broken and memories made.
We began our day early in an effort to soak it all in. Our arrival into Arlington was smooth and it was a beautiful day for a nice walk to the stadium. There was no shortage of high fives and friendly heckling on our way to our destination.
The tailgating itself was a spectacle, and we took pictures of all of the crazy fans! After a quick lunch and a walk around the entire stadium, we met up with friends to enter the house that Jerry built. We had been anticipating this moment as we had heard so many reports about what an amazing place it is. While waiting in the security line, MC Hammer agreed to take a picture with me. Who knew that would be the highlight of my day!
30 minutes later, our real experience began…
Now through security and approaching the ticket gate, the excitement really kicked in. We were at the SUPER BOWL!!! The excitement was immediately replaced with anxiety. The scanner indicated a ticket issue. We were told that we absolutely had real tickets (that thought never crossed our minds since these were family season tickets), however our bar code was faulty. What?! They told us to EXIT THE STADIUM and head to a tent called ” ticket resolution.” We waved our friends on, no point in them wasting their time and did as we were told. There we met several security guards and a couple of NFL representatives.
At that point, it was briefly explained to us that the fire marshal had not released our seats and not to worry, because this would be solved by 4:30. 4:30?! So much for checking out this cool new stadium!
They handed us a map, which directed us to the Party Plaza. Another trip through security and we were in a fenced in a “holding tank.” Here we met a couple of hundred folks in the same boat. Oh no! We had hoped this was a small problem and would be resolved quickly.
People here had a written statement saying we would be reimbursed three times our ticket value or given a different seat equivalent or better than our own for the game. It was not clear who had written the letter or if it was valid. This situation was getting stranger by the minute! At this point, people were getting very frustrated. We were literally stuck behind a closed fence with nobody giving us any indication of what was really going on. It was as if WE had done something wrong. They were ignoring us and letting us stir in this cage like animals!
rumours were swirling, but no official voice was heard. The media had now gotten wind of the situation and was making an effort to get in contact with some of the ticket holders in waiting. At one point I heard an NFL employee bark into his cell phone, “Why the hell did you tell them they were getting in??” Uh-oh. Things were not looking good.
Fans were getting extremely restless as precious minutes to gametime ticked by. I give Green Bay and Pittsburgh a lot of credit; this was an awful experience, and as ANGRY as people had become, no violence occurred. There were chants of “we want seats” and “Jerry sucks,” but no violence.
My husband and I used this time to chat with other fans and learn other people’s stories. I love doing that! We met a dad with his young son, probably 9 or 10 years old. How will they remember this day? There were others who spent their last dime to check something off on their bucket list. I don’t recommend this type of spending, but to each their own! Another man explained how his 80-year-old father waited almost 30 years to get Packers season tickets. He finally got them 10 years ago, and was now at the Super Bowl! (or not) Others still were die hard fans just giddy at the idea of seeing their heroes on the biggest stage in the world.
Resolution came, or so we thought, a half an hour early. At 4 pm, we were released into the stadium. People ran in, ecstatic to finally be a part of the huge celebration happening in front of us. The elation turned to confusion just as quickly. Now that we were in, what were we supposed to do? There was absolutely no guidance. Nobody was leading us to a ticket office or telling us where our new sets would be.
My husband and I decided to head to our seat assignment to see if someone was waiting there to help us. On the way there he promised, “As soon as we get seated I’m going to get you some nachos!” Nachos are my favourite game food. I never did get those nachos! :( On the way up to our seats, we ran into a large group of individuals whom we recognised from outside. They were following an NFL staff person, so we did the same. They were told we were being escorted to a hospitality area. As we made our way down 5 flights of cement stairs to the lowest level, I was certain Ashton Kutcher was waiting for us with front row seats! This was just too much! We arrived in the basement, passed the Steelers locker room and on to our final destination – a bar.
At first, it was exciting. The security personnel told us of all of the stars that frequent these hospitality areas. If we weren’t going to see the game, at least we were going to rub elbows with a lot of famous people! Hardly. They quickly escorted the ‘regulars’ out of this area, leaving only us outcasts to complain amongst ourselves. We were in yet another CAGE.
This time, the entrances to the tunnel, previously open and attended to by a security guard, were now closed off with metal gates. Although violence was not occurring, they were almost inviting it with their actions. Once inside this bar, we checked out our view of the field. Considering the bar is below field level, we were able to see out of a small window the backs of the Steelers legs and the flood of media and cameras on the sidelines. It was simply impossible to watch the game this way.
The bar did have many televisions with the game. Unfortunately, the sound was not in sync with the sound in the stadium or what was happening on tv! Terrible! So, it went something like this – loud roar in the stadium, a second later a great play on tv, a few seconds later the audio to go with the tv. Just awful.
Upon arrival, we were welcome to purchase $10 beers and $14 glasses of wine. I have no problem spending money at events, but my $7 diet soda just added insult to injury! Eventually they brought in a cart of personal pizzas and opened the bar to us. This was appreciated, as people were NOT happy with the situation and any distraction helped, I guess. As others began to watch the game – standing room only on cement floor – I made my way around the room to get a feel for what else was happening. In one corner, a family was negotiating with a staff member and was eventually taken to some seats. I wanted to do that! On the other hand, I felt so badly for some of these people that if there were seats to be had, I hoped others got them.
In many other areas, men and women were shedding lots of tears. Dreams shattered, wallets empty from the journey, and hearts broken. One young man told me he drove his 91-year-old grandfather all the way down from Chicago to witness his first Super Bowl. How will this man get this experience back?!?
My next trip to the bar surprised me when I was charged because “The tab was closed.” Seriously?! I was holding an $800 ticket and they were taking MORE? I declined the drink. At that point, I refused to fund any more of this nonsense.
Sometime during the game they brought out plastic chairs for the reject ticket holders to sit on. Some people seemed as though they were able to enjoy parts of the game and were trying to make the best out of their circumstances. Still, there was always a person somewhere with tears and yet another with harsh words of disappointment and anger. It was as if every time the masses got a little restless, they would throw us a bone. Next came a buffet of tacos and macaroni and cheese after an older woman complained of hunger. Then came the $10 food vouchers that were not honored at this bar!
Finally, we caught wind that we were going to be let out onto the field after the game. As the game wound down, and the winner was uncertain, the bar was buzzing with the prospect of seeing our team accept the Lombardi trophy. MANY more tears came from the Packers fans when the last seconds ticked off the clock. Followed by more tears, frustration and anger when they found out they would NOT see the trophy presented.
So, we waited. Players cleared out. The stadium cleared. We were told they were making a safe path for us to enter the field. Nope. They were constructing ANOTHER cage for us! Unbelievable. These 400 men and women who did not cause trouble, despite their circumstances, were being treated like barbarians! What did they think we would do? A Lambeau leap in Dallas? After all of this, would that have been so bad? We made our way into our new cage on the field. This was quite an impressive view of this massive stadium. The players were gone, but I did spot Aaron Rodger’s brother holding the world championship belt and a few other family members of players.
My husband and I chatted with a couple of friends and took a few pictures. Eventually, a couple of players emerged for interviews. A big thank you to Green and Kuhn for the great smiles for my camera – definitely a highlight on this crazy day!
I didn’t mention earlier that before we went out on the field, the NFL put together what my husband affectionately named our “sorry sacks.” They gave us each a bag with a long-sleeved t-shirt (mine was a 2XL), a game day program, and a hat. Thank you.
As we walked back toward our car, all we could do was laugh and shake our heads. What had just happened?
The Bottom Line:
There are several things that we learned later that were of interest. We were told by a fire fighter that the high seats were called unsafe due to low railings. We were also told that the bleacher seats were just not stable at all. We learned that this temporary seating project had begun weeks earlier, and failed during the first attempt. Apparently, a second attempt was made by a second contractor, but it was too little too late. This is complete hearsay and I can’t confirm it. I do have to believe, though, that this problem was known before 2 pm on game day! [Ed. note: It was.]
I am still in shock that this actually happened. I can’t believe it was handled the way it was. I and 399 other fans will never get the experience we were promised the day those tickets came in the mail. The NFL sold tickets they did not have. They ran us around for hours on game day. I really believe they were just hoping we would go away!
Hindsight is 20/20 ~
Looking back, the NFL should be ashamed of themselves in how this was handled. I do not have a great solution for selling seats you do not own, but the adventure we were on was WRONG. It was disgusting and disrespectful and rude, not to mention unprofessional and unorganized! In my opinion, someone needed to step up, take responsibility for the problem and decide how to handle it BEFORE the gates opened at 1 pm. I would have appreciated a little respect for my time. I would have appreciated being told the TRUTH, human to human, and given the chance to decide how to spend the rest of my afternoon. I would have liked to have been comfortable, in a place where I could enjoy the game with friends and family, rather than stuffed in a bar with strangers and overpriced drinks!
I don’t know what the proper course of action is at this point. What is done is done, and we will never get to live this experience. Do I think money should be refunded? Yes. We didn’t see the game. Would I go to the Super Bowl next year? Sure, but what if the Packers aren’t playing? I’m not out for fortune. I truly don’t think you can replace what is lost. I just wish people would take responsibility for their actions and think before they act.
One thing that is quite disturbing, thinking back, is the fact that nobody inside the stadium knew what was happening. Here, I’m speaking about staff members. My husband and I asked so many people inside where to go when they released us. Nobody knew what we were talking about. This was not a dangerous situation, but what if one had occurred? Was this staff well-trained and well-informed? That is a question I cannot answer. I thank God that we are all safe, and I am grateful that the situation that was mishandled was not a life and death matter.
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