The Super Bowl is one of the largest sports spectacles in the world. Around 111 million television viewers looked on as the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers battled for football glory. An additional 103,219 spectators saw the game live from Cowboys Stadium in North Texas. But due to poor planning, the stadium was not able to accommodate 400 fans who showed up to the game with their tickets in hand.
Due to a lack of space, the stadium’s maximum capacity was exceeded. In order to allow additional seating, temporary sections were built, but construction was not completed by Super Bowl Sunday. As a result, 400 fans were removed from the stadium and denied re-entry. The NFL failed to take proper action and is facing public scrutiny because of it.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Cowboys Stadium owner Jerry Jones were both in attendance, but did not apologize for their mistake face-to-face to those impacted. After reports surfaced about the ticket debacle, the NFL took action in efforts to compensate the fans that were not allowed to see the game and to save face in the public sphere. What unfolded achieved neither.
The NFL presented the 400 fans with two options. First, each fan would receive a free ticket to next year’s Super Bowl along with $2,400, a figure three times the amount of this year’s tickets face value. The second offered fans one free ticket to a future Super Bowl of that fan’s choice. This option also included round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations. Fans immediately rejected the initial offers. The NFL neglected to assess how much those 400 fans had spent on travel arrangements. They also forgot to account for the inflated cost of tickets when sold by third parties. Under the two options, fans’ expenses were still far from reimbursed. The NFL failed to properly assess the extent of monetary losses experienced by the fans. In doing so they made the organization appear stingy and unattached from their fans. This mishap and the failed attempt to solve it could not have come at a worse time for NFL executives and owners.
With the uncertain status of the new collective bargaining agreement and the looming potential of a player lockout, the NFL finds itself reliant on the support of its fans and will need some public sentiment. They may have lost all hope of that with their Super Bowl mistakes. Typical NFL fans have a hard time relating to rich athletes, which may ultimately lead them to side against players, blaming a potential lockout on their selfish demands. But, your typical NFL aficionado can relate to an ordinary fan being denied entrance in a game that he or she has paid for. The mistake, along with the obvious mishandling of the solution, reflects negatively on the operations of the NFL, which in turn may lead the fans to conclude that the NFL is responsible for the potential lockout, not the players.
A lockout will tarnish the reputation of the NFL. Executives and owners will take the brunt of the blame because of their failure to exhibit foresight and fairness with their largest profitable entity, their fans.
This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Evan Galusha.