Struggles never ended for Dallas

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DALLAS --- Roads froze and airports closed. Falling ice sent six people to the hospital. Finally, seats to the big game vanished hours before kickoff. Super Bowl week in Texas was not always so super.

Jim Boedecker tears down part of a lighting and stage rig at Cowboys Stadium. Frigid weather and seating issues put a damper on the game for organizers.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Jim Boedecker tears down part of a lighting and stage rig at Cowboys Stadium. Frigid weather and seating issues put a damper on the game for organizers.

Annoyance over difficult driving conditions and altered travel plans early in the week turned to anger Sunday for hundreds of fans with tickets who were forced to watch Green Bay beat Pittsburgh on TV at $1.3 billion Cowboys Stadium in suburban Arlington because their temporary seats weren't ready.

Many visitors left Dallas-Fort Worth wondering whether the region had been prepared to hold the event.

"Logistics are a major, major problem here," said John Boyle, a 53-year-old Packers fan who was waiting at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for a flight home to Minnesota on Monday. "And I think everyone would say the same thing." North Texas wasn't at fault for the seating problem. The region had no control over the weather, either. Ice fell from the roof of Cowboys Stadium on Friday, injuring six workers on the plaza below.

Hundreds of flights were canceled early in the week and again Friday when more snow hit, but airline estimates indicated most of the impact was not on travel.

Even after the weather cleared, Tim Bastion of Pittsburgh found out the hard way how difficult it can be to get around without a car in sprawling suburbs where organizers intentionally put major NFL events as many as 30 miles apart to emphasize the Super Bowl's regional efforts.

Bastion and his son had to take a hotel shuttle nearly 10 miles back to the airport in order to get a cab to take them places.

Estimates of the economic impact on the Super Bowl vary widely -- from $200 million to $600 million -- and it's unlikely the prolonged and unusual weather event will affect those figures significantly, said Terry Clower, the director for the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas.

Bill Lively, the president of the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee, still believes the region will get another Super Bowl.

The area rallied with about 48 hours of typical sunny Texas weather in the final countdown to the Super Bowl, then the clouds and a chilly wind returned.

"I know a lot of people are probably having hours and hours and hours of meetings post-event to try to learn from this," said Julie Dennehy, a public relations consultant. "What they need to do is communicate how much they learned, and how they've changed."

League knew for week of possible seat problems

The NFL knew last week there were problems with the installation of temporary Super Bowl seating sections and hoped until hours before kickoff that they could be fixed.

"At the end, we just ran out of time," NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said Monday.

Four hundred people were forced to give up their seats Sunday night and instead had to watch the game on monitors or use standing-room platforms in corners of Cowboys Stadium.

An additional 850 fans were moved from their seats in the temporary sections to other seats.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones issued statements apologizing to fans.

Goodell said the league would give tickets for next year's Super Bowl to the 400 fans left without a place to sit Sunday. The league already had said it would offer those people refunds of triple the face value of their Steelers-Packers tickets.

-- Associated Press

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