ARLINGTON, Texas — Ray Summeier of Indianapolis has seen every one of his hometown Colts' games this season — home and away, and his grand finale was a trip to Sunday's Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium.
When Summeier moved through security Sunday afternoon, the scanner rejected his ticket.
“I asked the person, ‘Do I have a bad ticket?'” Summeier told The Oklahoman. “They told me, ‘No, you have a bad seat.'”
Summeier was one of about 1,250 fans whose seats, which were in temporary sections, were victim of “incomplete installation,” which, according to an NFL statement, “made the seats unusable.”
Some of the sections were not completed and, “condemned by the fire marshal,” said Mark Visconti of Pittsburgh. Visconti was one of a large number of fans relegated to the Miller Lite Club on the field level, which is located behind the Steelers' bench but has no view of the field. The affected fans weren't allowed onto the field.
Approximately 850 fans in four of the affected sections were relocated to other seats, but about 400 in sections 425A and 430A “were not able to be accommodated with seats inside the stadium,” according to an NFL statement.
Summeier, Visconti and others were escorted outside the stadium, where they were told the matter would be resolved.
After confusing directions from NFL staff, fans were handed letters, with no NFL or Super Bowl letterhead, attempting to explain the error.
“Please be advised that due to unforeseen conditions, the installation of temporary seating for Super Bowl XLV was not fully completed and your assigned seat is unavailable for today's game. The NFL and Cowboys Stadium sincerely regret this inconvenience,” the letter said.
The letter went on to say that those affected would be given a refund three times the face value ($800) of each ticket that was affected. It then said those affected could watch the game in a hospitality area.
The same letter, with an address to send tickets to for a refund, was distributed in the Miller Lite Club with a Super Bowl XLV letterhead.
“This was supposed to be the big finale to the season,” Summeier said of the Christmas gift from his wife while fighting back tears.
Several NFL staff members held court and tried to apologize to a group of angry fans, who described the thousands of dollars they had spent on transportation to Dallas, hotel accommodations and the tickets, many of which were purchased secondhand and well above face value.
The three-times face value offered by the NFL, “won't cover the flight, hotel and ticket,” one Steelers fan yelled.
The staff members declined comment to The Oklahoman.
Matthew Rush, from Philadelphia, was one of the fans in the Miller Lite Club. He said a fan had already created the website, “superbowlsuit.com,” which will encourage those affected to join together for a class action lawsuit against the NFL.
“(The Super Bowl experience) is expensive, but it really doesn't have a price tag,” Rush said. “We've spent thousands of dollars, but it isn't even really about the money. It's about the experience.”
While Rush was talking to The Oklahoman and holding up a hand-made sign encouraging the others that were affected to visit the website, Carl Brown Jr., a security guard with S.A.F.E. management, said to Rush, “You just don't want to have a good time, do you?”
Rush responded, “I did; that's why I bought a Super Bowl ticket.”