Football, Sports, Tort Reform

Is Anybody Else Sick of Disgruntled ‘Seatgate’ Super Bowl Fans?

In case you haven’t been following along, the National Football League has been dealing with a little controversy from 1,250 fans who went to the Super Bowl. It’s been labeled “Seatgate.” These people bought tickets to the Super Bowl, but when they arrived in Dallas, their temporary seats were not completed. It appears that Super Bowl organizers knew there was a chance the seats would not be ready in time, but didn’t tell the fans. It turns out they had to watch the game in a standing-room area, on a television, or from different locations in the stadium.

The fans got screwed; no doubt about that. And, like an airline that bumps people because they oversold the plane, the NFL is trying to make it up to the fans. It’s not out of kindness; the NFL is just trying to mitigate the public-relations damage from Super Bowl ticket holders not having seats. So the NFL has offered the fans a number of “make good” options.

But the fans are not satisfied, and now there’s talk of lawsuits. Why? Because people are dumb and greedy and trying to milk their hardship for everything it’s worth.

To tell you the truth, I really want these super fans to go away already…

Of the 1,250 fans, 400 or so could not be relocated to nosebleed seats. The NFL has now offered these fans two different options, as the ABA Journal summarizes:

The NFL is giving the 400 jilted fans a choice: They can take $2,400 plus a ticket to next year’s Super Bowl, or they can accept a new offer of one free ticket, plus round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations, to a Super Bowl of their choosing, Bloomberg News reports.

You know, this really sounds fair to me. Either way, the fans will probably be out some money (especially the ones who bought their tickets from scalpers at a higher price than face value). But there will be another Super Bowl next year (absent a prolonged labor struggle), and one the year after that. To return to the airline analogy, if you get bumped from a flight you get on a later one, with maybe an upgrade.

But some of the fans aren’t satisfied:

The $2,400 offer doesn’t cover the travel and ticket costs for fans who paid higher than face value, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday in Dallas federal court. Bloomberg News has a separate story on the suit, which seeks at least $5 million in damages. Named as defendants are the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys and team owner Jerry Jones, according to a press release.

The suit also seeks damages for season ticket holders who claim they were given seats with obstructed views. The name plaintiff, lawyer Mike Dolabi, said he and other fans paid at least $100,000 for a seat license with the promise of a Super Bowl seat with one of the best sightlines in the stadium. Instead, the fans had to sit on metal folding chairs with partially blocked views, the suit says.

Christ, would it be possible for people to stop whining? As the NFL realized that these fans were getting screwed, the NFL started making concessions to the fans during the game. They gave them an open bar. They let the fans on the field after the game.

These fans have a story that they can tell for the rest of their lives. Sure, it’s kind of a crappy story, but sometimes those end up being the best stories. These people didn’t get locked up abroad, they lost out on a seat at a football game.

Suing the NFL at this point is just milking it. It’s no different than a person who gets into a minor accident but then shows up to court in a full-body cast. Something bad happened, the NFL is trying to make it right; we don’t need to make a lawsuit out of this.

You know why the NFL is so concerned about this from a public-relations standpoint? Because at the end of the day, these fans would have had a better “game” experience if they had stayed at home and watched the game on an expensive television.

The NFL isn’t worried about the lawsuit. It’s worried that these fans will learn their lesson and do the smart thing: watch football from home, or at a bar.

UPDATE: Wow, that was fast. A Superbowl-related lawsuit has been filed (although on a different issue).

Behind the Super Bowl Spin: The Depressing, Dangerous Horror Stories of Seatgate [Sports Illustrated]
NFL Sweetens Offer to Jilted Super Bowl Fans as Lawyer Sues and Lawsuit Websites Proliferate [ABA Journal]
NFL, Cowboys, Jones Sued by Season-Ticket Holders Over Super Bowl Seating [Bloomberg]

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