Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has been conspicuously inconspicuous over the past few days, has issued a statement in the wake of a Super Bowl week marred by various factors, man-made and otherwise. Though he acknowledges the biggest embarrassment — an unintended bait-and-switch involving fans who bought tickets to seats that weren’t available — Jones essentially declares victory and vows to get in line for more Super Bowls in his new stadium.
“The incomplete installation of temporary seats left a limited number of sections unusable for yesterday’s game. Manpower and timing issues caused inconveniences to some fans. At the end of the preparations, approximately 400 fans attending the game were not able to watch from those installed seats. We deeply regret their Super Bowl experience was impacted by this error, and we share that responsibility with the NFL,” Jones said.
“We will also continue to work closely with the NFL in its complete review of Super Bowl XLV. At the end of the day, the game on the field, and the stadium where it was played, exceeded the high level of expectation that the Super Bowl presents. It was a great game in a great venue, and it was an experience that will begin the process of bringing future Super Bowls to North Texas.
“Our region displayed the type of tremendous commitment of resources, services, enthusiasm, and hospitality that validates our community as a most worthy home to this wonderful event in the years to come.
“Our collective goals all along were to ensure that more than 103,000 people would be able to have an enjoyable game day experience on Super Bowl Sunday while also being a part of an event that ultimately produced the largest television audience for any program ever.”
For starters, the fact that the game was played in Cowboys Stadium had no impact on the size of the television audience, unless some of the viewers were hoping only to see whether a punt would strike the mother ship hovering over a 60-yard swath of the field. If anything, the TV audience was 30,000 to 40,000 persons smaller than it would have been if the game hadn’t been played in such a large stadium.
Then there’s the reality that, while the game day experience was very good for all but 400 who entered the venue (apart from those in attendance who had hoped to witness a Steelers victory), the complete lack of planning for an ice storm followed three days later by a snow storm made the experience one to forget for the folks who spent the full week in Dallas on a “working vacation” that was far more “work” than “vacation.”
For those visiting the three towns that hosted Super Bowl events (Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington), the cities essentially shut down around us, with municipalities and business owners doing nothing in many cases to remove ice, and later snow, from their property. Though I’ve now mastered the ability to walk on ice, it’s a skill I wasn’t expecting or hoping to acquire during eight days in Dallas.
It would be easy to ignore criticism from the media as whining from folks who live semi-charmed lives, but when it comes to the destination of the premier sporting event in the United States, who else is in position to paint an accurate picture for the rest of the country?
The picture was, from Tuesday through Friday, bleak. For anyone not staying in the Sheraton, site of the Media Center and Radio Row, getting to work included treacherous travel by car or by foot. At the hotel where my wife and I stayed (the Magnolia, not the Motel 6), the house car was unavailable to shuttle me back and for to the Sheraton for days due to “liability concerns.” (Apparently, car insurance policies are the one thing that isn’t bigger in Texas.) The room wasn’t cleaned for one or two days, because unlike those of us out-of-towners who had no choice but to show up for work, showing up for work was for plenty of employees optional.
Then there’s the inexcusable failure of Cowboys Stadium management to realize that the ice gathered on the roof may not simply melt and drip. If the first storm had struck only 48 hours later, the avalanche of bowling-ball sized chunks of frozen water would have been hitting a lot more than six or seven people.
So while we expect Jerry Jones to say whatever needs to be said in order to turn the page on the several negative aspects of the week and set the table for another Super Sunday financial windfall in the future, he needs to worry more about a citizenry that wasn’t ready for — or simply didn’t want — its close up. With so many other fine cities ready, willing, and able to happily stage an event that is a lot bigger than simply having a big stadium, it will be a challenge far bigger than building a big stadium to get another Super Bowl in North Texas.