The National Football League has decided to make room for 5,000 extra ticketholders for the Super Bowl in Lucas Oil Stadium.
NFL officials on Monday told IBJ that they plan to expand the stadium capacity to 68,000 during the Feb. 5 event in Indianapolis. Capacity for Colts games is typically 63,000.
The decision was made after the league evaluated how much room it would need for media auxiliary seating and for NBC’s production facilities within the venue.
When Indianapolis made its bid for the Super Bowl in 2008, local officials said they could expand Lucas Oil Stadium capacity to 70,000. But in recent weeks, the Super Bowl Host Committee said it was only going to expand capacity by 254 tickets.
“As with most major productions, plans are refined as the event nears,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. “We modified our plans … as we looked for the best fan experience.”
Most of the extra capacity will come from additional standing-room tickets sold for each suite and by filling platforms that are not normally used during Colts games with padded chairs.
A club area in the stadium’s north end zone will be used for the NFL’s City View Club. Those tickets, McCarthy said, will be used for NFL on Location ticketholders. That area will include 254 temporary seats.
NFL on Location is the league’s offering of hospitality and ticket packages for events including the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl and draft. All NFL on Location ticket packages come with “exclusive insider extras and amenities,” McCarthy said.
All the temporary seats have been inspected and approved by the city’s Department of Code Enforcement, McCarthy said. No bleachers or temporary structures will be built to accommodate the additional capacity, he said.
At last year’s Super Bowl in Dallas, a problem with meeting safety standards for some of the temporary seating meant 850 ticketholders were moved in Cowboys Stadium. Another 400 didn’t end up with seats despite buying a ticket and showing up for the game. Those fans were forced to watch the game on monitors in a lounge area.
Those 400 were given refund of triple face value—$2,400 per ticket. But many of the displaced fans complained that the NFL’s refund was less than they paid for the tickets on the secondary market.
Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board Executive Director Barney Levengood said that issue shouldn’t come up this year since there has been no construction needed to accommodate the increased capacity inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
Even with the added capacity, this year’s Super Bowl will be the smallest in terms of attendance since 67,603 watched the game in San Diego in 2003.
The attendance record for the Super Bowl was set in 1980 when 103,985 watched the game in Pasadena, Calf. Cowboys Stadium last year seated 103,219 for the game.
The smallest crowd to watch the Super Bowl was 61,946 in Los Angeles for Super Bowl I in 1967. Indianapolis’ Super Bowl will be the sixth of 46 Super Bowls to have attendance under 70,000.