Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones testifies in Super Bowl lawsuit
DALLAS — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday he regretted the fact that some fans ended up without seats during the 2011 Super Bowl at his billion-dollar showplace stadium as he testified in a lawsuit by fans who sued the NFL.
About 1,250 temporary seats were deemed unsafe hours before the game in which Green Bay beat Pittsburgh, forcing about 850 ticket holders to move to new seats and 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 has said it fully compensated displaced fans. Commissioner Roger Goodell, who provided videotaped testimony last week, said the league was responsible for the issues.
Jones was the highlight of the trial so far, looking directly at the jury and smiling during his answers as he took the stand just a few hours before the NFL’s free agency period opened. But questioning got contentious at times and U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn had to interrupt frequently while Jones and plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Avenatti talked over each other.
Avenatti pressed hard on whether Jones had a stated desire to break the Super Bowl attendance record of 103,985, set in 1980 at the Rose Bowl. The attendance for the 2011 game was 103,219.
"Just answer my question," Avenatti said at one point as he asked Jones whether he had shared his desire to break the record.
"You will not accept my answer," Jones replied, and then referred to the fact that the stadium was designed to hold 111,000 people, though not all of them would be seated. "The record was automatically broken when we built the stadium."
Avenatti shot back: "But people still had to have seats."
Later, during a quiet moment, Jones turned to the judge and asked: "Is this fair?"
Avenatti asked whether it was fair that people ended up without seats, and Jones said, "No. No. I regret that. I regret that."