Woes continue in leadup to Super Bowl
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Jerry Jones has long looked forward to Super Bowl week, to the glitz and glitter sure to come with hosting the NFL’s biggest and most-watched event in his showcase $1.2 billion stadium.
The leadup to Sunday’s game wasn’t supposed to be like this.
A long, cold week in North Texas took an even worse turn Friday when six people were injured after being struck by ice and snow falling off the domed roof of cavernous Cowboys Stadium in nearby Arlington. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, but the accident added to the general sense of frustration with cold weather in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this week.
The injured were private contractors hired by the NFL to prepare the stadium for the game. One man was hit in the head, another in the shoulder.
The accident Friday wasn’t the first involving icy conditions at Cowboys Stadium.
In December 2009, two workers doing maintenance on the icy roof were injured when they slipped and tumbled at least 50 feet. They didn’t fall off the roof because they were stopped by what is basically a huge rain gutter. One of the workers broke a leg and suffered other injuries, and the other had a back injury.
The season started fresh for Jones, who wanted his Cowboys to become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. That was dashed with a 1-7 start, but the Super Bowl was still coming to Arlington and once Green Bay and Pittsburgh sealed their trips to the big game, Jones was happy to host them.
“Great tradition, outstanding teams,” Jones said at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. “With what the Packers are about and what the Steelers are about, it makes a great game. If you’re in my shoes right now as far as Cowboys Stadium is concerned, I’m really proud that they’re going to be there. I’m proud for North Texas.”
Yet the wintry blast has challenged everyone. Temperatures were below freezing for the fourth consecutive day Friday, when more snow fell three days after an ice storm. Most Super Bowl events have gone on as planned despite uncertainty visitors won’t be able to get to Dallas or might cancel their stays.
A fresh snow storm Friday threatened to leave fans traveling to the Super Bowl stranded far from Sunday night’s big game.
The snow caused about 380 inbound flights to be canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport by Friday afternoon, and it shut down commercial flights at smaller Dallas Love Field for several hours.
The snow tapered off by early Friday afternoon, and airlines counted on a weather forecast that called for clearing skies and temperatures rising into today.
At DFW Airport, one of the nation’s busiest, spokesman David Magana said they expected to handle the full load of arrivals — including charter and private jets — Friday night and today. DFW’s four main runways stayed open throughout the day, he said.
American Airlines, the dominant carrier at DFW Airport, expected Friday to be the busiest day for travelers attending the Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“We are putting extra effort to operate our flights in from Chicago today to keep the Super Bowl-oriented traffic moving,” said Tim Smith, an American Airlines spokesman.
American scheduled 12 extra flights for Friday from Pittsburgh and airports near Green Bay to handle people coming to the game.
If those flights were canceled, stranded fans could have struggled to get to the game because later flights heading to Dallas from the two teams’ regions were booked. However, Smith said the airline expected to accommodate the football fans. He said all of Friday’s Chicago-Dallas and Pittsburgh-Dallas flights were running normally, including the extra ones.
Most stadium entrances were closed as a precaution and officials raised the temperature inside the arena in an attempt to melt any remaining ice. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said workers were checking the roof for areas where there could be more issues.
Friday’s accident came the same day former Cowboy Jamar Hunt settled his lawsuit seeking damages after he said he was hurt when the team’s tent-like practice facility in Irving collapsed during a gusty storm in May 2009.
Attorney Michael Guajardo said Hunt received an undisclosed amount as a result of the settlement with Summit Structures, its Canadian parent, Cover-All Building Systems Inc., and two corporations controlled by Jones.
Hunt was among 27 players participating in a rookie minicamp when the 88,000-squarefoot facility collapsed. The National Institute of Standards and Technology concluded the building fell in winds of 55-65 mph, but should have been able to withstand winds of up to 90 mph.
In a lawsuit filed by special teams coach Joe DeCamillas, who suffered a broken vertebrae in the disaster, DeCamillas received a $4.5 million settlement last August. Team scout Rich Behm, whose injuries left him paralyzed from the waist down, settled a similar suit at the same time and received $19.5 million.