Safety concerns over the condition of the field at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium in Canton prompted the first pre-season game of the year to be canceled. The move left fans disgruntled.
"They say they’re going to reimburse you for the ticket price but that’s minuscule compared to what we put in to come out here," said Brent Brown of Glendale, Arizona who spent $3,000 on the trip.
"You’ve had all summer to get ready for this, so you think they’d put a little more into it," said Thomas McCarthy, referring to the NFL.
The NFL released this statement Sunday night:
"Due to safety concerns with the condition of the playing surface in Canton, tonight's game between the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers has been canceled. We are very disappointed for our fans, but player safety is our primary concern, and as a result, we could not play an NFL game on this field tonight."
Field maintenance and Hall of Fame officials were scrambling late Sunday to try and fix issues with the field, which appear to stem from the melting of paint at mid-field and in the end zone, leading to a rubbery surface.
Concerns were raised that players' cleats may get stuck in the melted areas where the turf was affected.
“I’m angry, they [officials] knew long before,” said Ruth Borgmann of Fort Wayne, Ind. who believed officials should have called off the game much earlier so attendees had more time to change their plans.
Officials with the Hall of Fame originally discussed with team General Managers that pre-game ceremonies would still go on, but the game could become more of a glorified practice because of the issues. Ultimately, it was canceled.
“Walking on the field, there were some hard spots and there were some soft spots," said Henry Stuchel who said he worked on the field last night as a contractor. But he didn't believe it was bad enough to call of the game.
“It is a let down for the fans," said McCarthy.
“I am so disgruntled I want to head out right now," said Brown. "I thought better of the NFL."
Attendees have been told they will be refunded. The last time a pro football hall of fame game was canceled was in 2011 due to an NFL lockout. The first pre-season game was held at the stadium in 1962.