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Dallas Cowboys Owner Testifies in Super Bowl Seating Case

Closing arguments and jury deliberations are expected Wednesday morning in the first lawsuit by fans who sued the NFL over problems with temporary seats at the 2011 Super Bowl in Arlington.

Jerry Jones Testifies

Dallas Cowboys general manager and owner Jerry Jones’ took the stand Tuesday in Dallas.

Jones testified he spoke with lawyers from the NFL, his personal attorney and his son Stephen Jones prior to testimony and even said he wondered by Stephen Jones didn’t have to testify.

Jones agreed he is one of the most hands-on owners in the NFL but refused to say he’s more powerful than other NFL owners.

Jones said the 2011 Super Bowl bid said the stadium could handle more than 100,000 fans and gross more than $85 million in Super Bowl ticket sales, which was important to sell other owners on the North Texas location.

“I built the stadium knowing it would accommodate 111,000 people,” Jones testified.

Jones defended efforts made to get the temporary seats finished in time for the big game and admitted he hoped to set a record for Super Bowl attendance.

The record fell short when 1,200 fans were corralled in a fenced area waiting for replacement tickets since their seats were never finished and more then 400 never saw the game at all.

“We wanted them to be compensated for the fact that they didn’t have a seat. the majority of everybody involved with these tickets felt that what we’d given them was very fair,” Jones said after testifying.

Testimony and Emails Presented

Tuesday morning testimony centered around how much the NFL knew about the problems before fans arrived for the big game at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on Feb. 6, 2011.

Architect Todd Barnes, an NFL consultant, testified about the temporary seat arrangements. Barnes’ testimony showed efforts were made to identify temporary seat issues started years before the Super Bowl and continued into game week.

Barnes said obstructed view seats shown by the plaintiff’s lawyer in a photo Monday were no from the 2011 Super Bowl.

NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman testified he did not have direct contact with the seating contractor.

Grubman also said the NFL did not research the background of the seating contractor hired by the Cowboys. The contractor was banned in New Jersey in 2005.

Emails from NFL ticket officials were presented in court.

One email from Jan. 31, 2011 said, “People sitting on each other’s shoulders, honestly it’s a mess.” and “Lots of temp seats are really bad and some cannot even be installed. Yet they are sold.”

The official’s email also said, “Gonna have big fun on Sunday.”

Despite evidence of brewing seat trouble, Grubman testified the NFL thought everything would be fine and that there were enough extra tickets to cover the shortfall, yet fans were never warned.

The Lawsuit

About 1,250 temporary seats were deemed unsafe hours before the game at the $1.2 billion home of the Cowboys. That forced about 850 ticket holders to move to new seats and sent 400 others to standing-room locations.

Seven fans sued, saying they didn’t have seats or their seats had obstructed views. The lawsuit alleges the NFL breached its ticket contract and that settlement offers failed to fully compensate them.

The NFL claims the fans waging the lawsuit made unfair demands.

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