INDIANAPOLIS -- It was a disappointed and regretful Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who met with the Dallas/Fort Worth media Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine for the first time since the Super Bowl XLV seating fiasco at Cowboys Stadium.
Jones declined to go into detail regarding the problems, citing an ongoing evaluation.
He took responsibility, along with the NFL, for the seating issues and vowed to do better and get it done right the next time.
Jones' goal of putting on the best Super Bowl ever was compromised by an inordinate weather condition and then smeared by the seating fiasco on game day.
Arlington fire marshals declared that 1,250 temporary seats were still unsafe (missing guardrails, loose seats, loose steps) just hours before the game, forcing 850 fans to be moved to new seats and 400 others to watch the game from standing-room-only locations around the stadium.
Jones understands and accepts the personal criticism he is receiving as the man behind Cowboys Stadium. However, he said many things went right, thanks to the work of the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee and its coalition of cities, and he believes the Cowboys and North Texas will be hosts for another Super Bowl.
"I think that our opportunities for a Super Bowl in the future are very outstanding, very good, because of the venue that we have and because of the way the Super Bowl was supported, and, if you will, worked," Jones said. "I do, along with the NFL, take responsibility for the seating issue and some of the things that we would like to improve on regarding the seating issues and the informing of the fans that were involved. We certainly intend to and will get much better in terms of the seating and how that is handled."
Here are other issues Jones addressed from his Marriott Hotel suite Friday morning:
What were your overall thoughts and impressions on Super Bowl XLV? Our goal was to have the greatest Super Bowl possible and, if possible, to have the greatest Super Bowl that's been held. We sold the reason we wanted the Super Bowl here, that we had great traditional interest in football in the area. We also sold the central part of the country.
One of the challenges in the NFL is getting enough seats to go around, so to speak. We knew we were going to have a venue that could do that and accommodate. That was one of the real pluses.
So we thought we had one of greatest and enthusiastic support staffs in the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee that could really impress and do good job with the Super Bowl. We had an outstanding effort and an outstanding organization that involved thousands of people in a unique coalition from all over North Texas. That is a major plus. That did happen.
And it will always be noted that it did happen in the trying circumstances of inordinate weather conditions. It met the task in my mind, the North Texas effort, both financially as well as effort-wise.
Why didn't you start putting in seats earlier? I'm not going to get in any specifics and wouldn't right now because we are still reviewing and evaluating some of what we did, as well as some of what we can do in the future. But with the goal that we had to make our Super Bowl the best, I do really regret that we had the criticism, especially for fans that were involved. How we operate in the future, if we should have other instances, that's all under review.
So the problems were in how it was handled, not the fact that the stadium couldn't support the seats? The answer is yes to that. It was operational as opposed to the design. The stadium was designed from the get-go to have that equivalent of permanent seats. The infrastructure, the concessions, restrooms, basic size per capita, all of that is a part of the design and were anticipated, planned on, part of our presentation to the NFL. Capacity and the number of fans the Super Bowl can have for the event is an important consideration and will be an important consideration when you make bids.
What were your emotions as things were happening on Super Bowl Sunday with the displaced fans? It's been noted that we were trying to work hard to get replacement tickets. We were part of that process, the people of our [Cowboys] organization contributed to relocating fans. We were very active in that process.
Are you disappointed people want to blame you as the face of Cowboys Stadium? Yes, I am disappointed. But I understand that directed criticism. It makes me want to get it right. It creates a real desire on my part to do better. There were a lot of things that went right, but I do understand and regret and am disappointed for the fans, as I said earlier, and share that responsibility.
How do you think North Texas looked in the face of the national criticism? I think that really when the dust settles, there will be a real recognition of how North Texas came together. In general, we always knew the Super Bowl will be viewed and looked at from the standpoint of how it's looked at from millions of people. That was a tremendous success.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.