Blog: The NFL Has Super Bowl Spectators Covered

Since the final whistle in Super Bowl XLV, more has been written about the 1,250 fans involved in the Super Bowl seating fiasco than about the 106 Packers and Steelers who took part in the game. While 850 of those fans were relocated to other seats inside the stadium, the remaining 400 - those who were sent to watch the game outside on a video screen, despite holding tickets - are mulling an increasing number of options in their search for redress from the NFL.

The NFL's first offer was a free ticket to next year's Super Bowl plus $2,400, which is three times the face value of the original tickets. The league quickly added a second option, a free ticket to a Super Bowl of their choice and round trip airfare with four nights in a hotel. Now, the league's latest offer is either $5,000 or reimbursement for "actual documented" Super Bowl expenses, whichever figure is higher. So, the question is: What should the NFL actually have to pay those 400 fans who did not get in to see the game?

Under contract law, there are only three remedies available - expectation interest, reliance interest and restitution interest:

1. Expectation interest requires the breaching party, the NFL, to compensate the fans for any benefit they expected to receive from the contract. The problem with this is, how does a court put a dollar figure on watching the Super Bowl? If the ticket price was $800, is it valued at $800, or is the relevant figure the value of the ticket on the open market - what scalpers were getting at game time? And what value could the court place on the experience of attending the game?

2. Under the theory of reliance interest, the NFL would be liable for all damages the fans incurred in reliance on the contract (the ticket to the game). The NFL's latest offer, $5,000 or reimbursement for "actual documented" Super Bowl expenses, is an attempt to address the fans' reliance interests.

3. Under restitution interest, all the fans would be able to recover is the benefit that he or she gave to the league - $800, or the price of the ticket. Therefore, if they paid more than the face value, they would not be able to recover the additional cost, not to mention what they spent getting to or staying in Dallas.

Based on these three theories on monetary damages, it would appear that the NFL has all the fans impacted by the ticket fiasco covered.

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