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Approximately 15,000 temporary seats were added to Cowboys Stadium in a bid to set the record for the largest crowd in Super Bowl history.
The 1980 record for Super Bowl attendance was 103,985 set at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Super Bowl XLV's attendance was 103,219, leaving Cowboys Stadium 766 shy of the record.
"Today's paid attendance, including 3,000 people in the Party Plaza, is 91,060," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
The NFL was counting fans who paid for the Party Plaza, an area outside of the stadium with big screen TVs, in the attendance numbers. The 12,159 credentialed media made up the rest of the attendance number.
On Jan. 27, the NFL had estimated that a record-breaking 105,000 would attend the game -- 95,000 in seats and suites inside the stadium, 5,000 in the Party Plaza and about 5,000 media and staff.
But Sunday's actual attendance was just shy of the population of Green Bay, Wis., which is about 104,000.
Seating snafu also mars game-day attendance
In their zeal to set a Super Bowl attendance record, the NFL and Jones overlooked one important detail: Making sure all the temporary seats inside mammoth Cowboys Stadium had been inspected and were ready for the fans.
Actually, the seats had been installed in six temporary sections, but they went up so late that the fire marshal didn't have time to inspect them, according to a police officer standing near an affected area who wouldn't give his name and an explanation of the situation provided to several fans.
The officer said the winter storms that struck North Texas earlier had set back work on the temporary seats.
That didn't matter to fans who felt they had been deceived by the league and Jones, the Dallas Cowboys owner who had hoped some 105,000 people would watch the game inside and outside the stadium. To bolster the crowd, there were $200 tickets that provided nothing more than a chance to watch the game on video screens set up in outdoor plazas.
Organizers were hoping flawless game-day logistics would wipe out some of the complaints about the poor weather during the week, but the seating problem could be an issue in the area's plans to bid for the 50th Super Bowl in 2016.
Associated Press writer Paul Newberry and NBC DFW's Shane Allen contributed to this report.