Arlington Blames Super Seating Mess on Contractor - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Arlington Blames Super Seating Mess on Contractor



    Arlington inspectors raised concerns about the temporary seats in Cowboys Stadium weeks before the Super Bowl, according to city documents.

    The city released hundreds of inspection reports, e-mails and memos about the seating Friday morning.

    "There were some inconsistencies with rail height, there were inconsistencies with the consistency of that spacing of those rails that go up the mid-aisle of all the bleachers," Ed Dryden, Arlington's chief building official, said Friday.

    The documents show that the city still didn't have a total count for all of the seating on the same day that the NFL said 105,000 people were expected to attend the game.

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    The actual attendance -- which included credentialed media -- ended up at 103,219.

    Documents detail troubles with temporary seating

    Many of the e-mails between Arlington and the Dallas Cowboys and others show growing frustration with missed deadlines and delays.

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    On Jan. 20, Dryden told the Cowboys Stadium Manager Jack Hill in an e-mail that some of the issues were "significant and, from our perspective, there's not a great deal of progress that we can see."

    The e-mail continued, "I want to make sure there is a clear understanding of the city's expectations -- that all of these items can be corrected prior to the day of the event."

    Four days before the big game, Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson told Hill that many issues still had not been resolved.

    A city photo shows that crews were still hustling on game day to fix the problems.

    At 10:34 a.m., a city official told the lead inspector, "Bottom line is, if it is not right, don't approve it."

    The inspector wrote back at 12:10 p.m., just hours from kickoff.

    "Seating contractor just gave notice that his crew cannot complete the upper concourse west end -- 2,400 seats. Major!"

    City says it's not liable in seating debacle

    Arlington said the Cowboys are liable for any lawsuits related to the stadium and does not believe the seating screwup will cost taxpayers money.

    "Our folks did their job, and so that's what we stand behind," Deputy City Manager Trey Yelverton said.

    Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said he blames the contractor hired to put in the seats, New York-based Seating Solutions.

    "I think there's enough blame to go around for most people, and, obviously, I believe the operator should have pulled in more resources to finish the site that he had agreed upon," he said.

    The NFL told Pro Football Talk on Thursday that the Cowboys had a hand in hiring Seating Solutions.

    The chairman of Seating Solutions, Scott Suprina, said Friday that he never had a problem using the same seats and handrails at Cowboys Stadium.

    "I don't know why the inspection criteria for the people in the city of Arlington in that stadium changed from four other visits here," he said.

    But the city said nothing had changed, saying that the Super Bowl was the first time so many temporary seats were set up in that way.

    Seating Solutions, which opened a Dallas office within the last year, also said the weather was partly to blame for the delays. However, the city documents show that the installation had been behind schedule for weeks.

    At least two lawsuits have already been filed over the temporary seating. Two Packers fans filed suit against the NFL, the Cowboys and the stadium alleging fraud, breach of contract and negligence; and a class-action suit filed against the league, the Cowboys and Jones alleges breach of contract, fraud and deceptive sales practices.

    Despite the seating furor, Cluck said he was happy with Super Bowl XLV.

    "I don't feel we have a black eye," he said. "I feel we have one of the best Super Bowls in history."

    NBC DFW's Lita Beck and Scott Gordon contributed to this report.

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