Super Bowl

Nfl Executive Vp Eric Grubman On Super Bowl Seating Snafu: I’d Still Be Mad, Too


In the grand scheme of things, 400 people really isn’t a big deal when it comes to the percentage of people affected by something in the United States. When it comes to the Super Bowl, however, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that we’d be angry if we were one of those 400. That’s how many folks were affected by the Super Bowl seating snafu that went down on Sunday when additional seating in Dallas did not pass safety inspection. The NFL more or less had to turn 400 people away from getting into the Super Bowl. Now, the league has admitted its fault and is doing what it can to fix their problem. The league is offering those 400 people three times face value for their Super Bowl XLV ticket plus a ticket to next year’s Super Bowl that can be sold for market value or a seat to any future Super Bowl if they are hoping to get back and see their team. It’s not enough to satisfy many of those 400, and there is at least one NFL executive vice president who doesn’t blame them for being angry at him. Eric Grubman joined 970 ESPN in Pittsburgh with Joe Bendel to discuss how the snafu happened, why the additional seats didn’t pass inspection, the angry fans he has on his hands now, if Dallas has ruined its hopes of hosting another Super Bowl, the lawsuit pending in the problem, the fans’ reaction to the NFL’s options to make up for the troubles and how to avoid this kind of thing happening again.

How did this happen?:

“It’s a construction project when you put up these stands, these temporary stands. You put up the outside of the building and then you’ve got to finish it and there’s a lot of detail work and you can’t get the inspections until you do the finished detail work. And we just didn’t get that done. Literally, an hour before the game, we thought we were going to have all the seats and we just didn’t get it done.”

What did they say was too risky?:

“They were there every step of the way. They were there for days because you clear these sections as they get finished. I was there all night on Saturday night and I was there with the inspectors. They bent over backwards to help us to point out things early. Was I disappointed? Yeah, I was really disappointed. I think of the fans, they’re like my brother. The safety railings weren’t up, the contractor didn’t finish, they pulled their tools and they were done.”

On fans who are irate over the process:

“It was awful. We made the best of it. We screwed it up, I can’t change that. I’m a football fan and before I worked at the Super Bowl I took my young sons and my father … to see the New York Giants and if that would have happened to me, I would be furious.”

If, given the circumstances, Dallas would be on the list for another Super Bowl:

“It was a regional approach to the Super Bowl and they did a great job and they were great hosts. I tell you, I would go back there again. I don’t think they took themselves out of the running. Do we plan it better next time? You betcha.”

On the class action lawsuit filed in this problem:

“I’m not particularly surprised but also I’m not particularly focused on the lawsuit. I’m focused on our fans that got so disappointed. We’re going to focus on them and do the best job we can for them and let the lawyers worry about the lawyers.”

What the fan reaction has been like now that the NFL is giving refunds and options to go to next year’s Super Bowl or a Super Bowl of their choice in the future:

“The feedback has been good, but people are not saying, ‘OK, NFL, I forgive you, all’s fine.’ They’re telling us their stories. They want us to understand their stories and how much it meant to them. We’re just asking them to tell us their stories and to make sure they know where they can get information, what the offers are and to give us full contact information. I actually think I’d still be mad, too, if I were one of them, but, eventually the value of these offers — whether it’s the money value or the emotional value — it’s going to help.”

How to avoid this next time:

“We can’t be complacent. We are big and we have a lot of pride and we like to do things that are audacious. … When we are ambitious and bold, we need to make sure we check it, double check it and triple check it.”

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