by Brad Powell
As Steeler season ticket holders, my brother Dan and I were ecstatic to be going to our first Super Bowl. We were informed Thursday before the AFC Championship that we had been selected in the Steeler’s lottery and with a victory, we would be mailed face value tickets to XLV in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. We hadn’t gone to XL or XLIII because we were unwilling to pay the exorbitant up charge normally added to tickets.
This year was different. We had tickets, we just needed our team in the game. Against our better judgement, we decided to book flights and hotels before the Jets game to beat the rush and premium prices that were sure to come after a Steelers win. I honestly have never been more nervous for a game. I felt like there was so much riding on the outcome. As we like to say in Pittsburgh, we had a feeling. Luckily for us the Steelers held off a great comeback by the Jets and we were going to Dallas.
We had been following the weather in the area in the week leading up to the game and the Texans had been having understandable problems. The weather coupled with a taxi strike made our travels difficult but we were in good spirits because we were anticipating a once in a lifetime experience.
Once we finally got to where we were staying in Arlington, our experience improved. We didn’t make it to Dallas, but the people in Arlington and Fort Worth could not have been nicer or more accommodating. We met up with friends, sampled the local night life and rubbed elbows with celebrities, including Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl if he counts. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend Humperdinks in Arlington and Joe T. Garcia’s and Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth.
As we neared the Stadium our anticipation was building. Cowboys stadium is an unbelievable sight up close. This is when our dream weekend turned into a nightmare.
We decided to go in early around 2:30 to take in the sights and pre-game festivities. After an hour and a half of standing in line, we got to the security check point and when they scanned our tickets we were told they were invalid and there was a problem with our section. With no details, we were sent over to the opposite side of the stadium to the ticket resolution center. Again there were no details for us. We were told that the NFL was working on a solution. Everyone’s tensions were escalating. After standing around for another 20 minutes we were told our tickets had been validated and we could enter the stadium. With no priority access through security, we had to get back in line.
We finally got into the stadium around 5:00 and made our way back to the opposite side of the stadium to our seats. When we finally made it to our section, we were turned away and told our seats were unsafe. We were then sent to another part of the stadium to resolve the matter. We were finally ushered into a freight elevator and sent to the Miller Light Club on the lowest level of the stadium. This club is below field level behind the Steelers Bench. With all of the media on the field, we had no view of the game. We were instructed to watch the game on the TVs in the bar. It was time for kickoff and at this point we still had no word from the NFL and were told that someone from guest services would be coming down to try to get us new seats. They didn’t even have chairs and started to bring a limited number toward the end of the first quarter.
At the start of the second quarter, there was still no Word from the NFL. Finally, right before halftime, the suits with fancy NFL ties handed everyone a letter stating that we would receive a 3x face value refund for our tickets and the Miller Lite club would be our seat for the game. No questions were answered. We were charged full price for drinks and were never offered and did not have an option to purchase food.
I commend several of the police officers and security guards for keeping their cool while taking verbal abuse from several of the angry fans.
At the end of the game, fewer than 400 fans remained and were given gift bags with a T-shirt, hat and game program. We were then allowed to join the Green Bay celebration occurring on the field which was salt in the wound of this Steelers fan.
The letter is our only link to the 3x refund which requires us to send our original ticket back to the NFL in New York. We feel a bit lucky since we only paid face value, but the $2400 promised will not even pay for half of our expenses on the weekend.
The NFL had 59 days to prepare the stadium for this event. How is it possible that they were still installing seats on the day of the game? I’m still not sure if Jerry Jones’ ego is to blame or the ineptitude of the NFL management. I do know that the 400 of us displaced should not be counted in the official attendance since we were not part if the event.
Brad Powell is a Steeler season ticket holder born and raised in Pittsburgh. He graduated from Tulane University and now works for his family business in the construction industry and also as a web entrepreneur.