ARLINGTON (KRLD) – The Arlington Fire Chief is speaking out about the seat fiasco and ice and snow removal at Cowboys Stadium.
Chief Don Crowson says it was for their own safety that hundreds of fans were turned away from Super Bowl XLV — even though they had tickets. “The stairwells were not completed. The temporary stairs were not completed,” explained Crowson. “In the event of an emergency, if fans needed to exit down those stairs they were simply not safe; therefore those seats could not be used.”
Crowson says they had been monitoring the construction of the temporary seats for weeks and had hoped they would be completed, safely, by game time.
KRLD’s Chuck Schechner speaks with Arlington Fire Dept. Chief Don Crowson
“When it became apparent that the stands were not going to be completed in that area, that the stairs on the north and south sides of the upper concourse temporary seating area was not completed, I had a direct conversation with the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys organization and there was no ‘push back’ at all,” Crowson said. “Our responsibility is to make sure that people are safe and that’s paramount.”
According to Crowson, the decision was made not to use the seats at 2:00 Sunday afternoon. “Those seats that you saw that were unoccupied were served by the stairs that were not completed, therefore we were not going to allow them to be used. I assigned firefighters and police officers, and NFL safety security personnel were there to make sure people did not cross over.”
The Arlington Fire Department had to deal with the seating situation after addressing safety concerns about falling snow, after several people were injured at the stadium. Snow and ice began falling from the roof around 1:15 Friday afternoon, as workers were preparing the stadium for the Super Bowl.
The clearing of the ice and snow from the roof meant additional manpower and expense, but Crowson says the tab didn’t go to the city. “Those additional resources were funded by the Dallas Cowboys,” he explained. “There was no additional cost to the City of Arlington and that’s how it worked.”
As far as any ice and snow danger, Crowson said the roof situation was monitored, potential dangers identified and, “Based on the information from the top [of the roof] we developed a perimeter plan on the four corners and the Super Bowl proceeded forward in a very safe environment.”
Crowson said ultimately his job is to keep visitors and the citizens of Arlington are safe, and that that was also the biggest concern for the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys organization. “When the safety issue came up there was no negative conversations, it was all positive in the interest of the fans’ safety.”