DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Ken Laffin of Wausau, Wisc. Said he spent about $7,000 to watch Super Bowl 45 with friends at Cowboys Stadium.
“We were excited,” he said. “I can’t tell you how excited we were.”
But Laffin said that excitement quickly faded when they were among the more than 1,200 fans whose temporary seats were ruled unsafe to sit in. While most got new seats, 400 fans, including Laffin, didn’t.
He said he had to stand the entire game without seeing the action on the field. He’s now the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in Dallas County against the NFL and Dallas Cowboys.
“They sold us a ticket to a seat that didn’t exist and, to me, that’s fraud,” Laffin said.
The Cowboys and the NFL declined to comment on the lawsuits. But the league said its senior vice presidents are reaching out to the 400 fans who couldn’t get seats despite having tickets.
The NFL has offered two options: A free ticket to next year’s Super Bowl plus $2,400 – three times the face value of their ticket – or a free ticket to a Super Bowl of their choice and roundtrip airfare with four nights in a hotel.
“It’s beyond simply, oh, go to the next Super Bowl, because that’s not about this,” said Trey Branham, a Dallas-based attorney who represents Laffin. “This was a once in a lifetime event for Packers and Steelers fans.”
A separate, federal lawsuit filed against the NFL, Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones seeks $5 million in damages. Steve Simms, a lifelong Steeler fan from Pennsylvania, said he also went to the game and couldn’t get a seat.
“It was depressing. I wanted to be out there and see that,” he said. “If I wanted to watch that game in a bar on a TV monitor, which is basically what we were doing, I would have stayed home.”
Even though Laffin’s team one, he said he shares the sense of loss.
“I could have watched anywhere in the world better than I watched it at Dallas Cowboys Stadium,” Laffin said.
Arlington resident Mike Dolabi, another plaintiff in the federal lawsuit, is one of the stadium “founders” who paid $100,000 for a personal seat license for Cowboys home games, entitling him to the best sightlines in the stadium and the right to buy a Super Bowl ticket at face value.
But Dolabi and others complain the Super Bowl seats were obstructed and inadequate and lacked a reasonable view of the video board.
“All we’re attempting to do is have the NFL, the Cowboys and Jerry Jones stand up and do the right thing,” said California attorney Michael Avenatti.
Both lawsuits are seeking class-action status.