Fans angry over cancellation of Hall of Fame Game

Fans expressed their displeasure over the NFL's cancellation of the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday. AP Photo/David Richard

CANTON, Ohio -- You would have thought Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker was Brett Favre returning to Lambeau Field wearing a Minnesota Vikings uniform for the first time the way he was booed by fans when he told them about the cancellation of Sunday’s preseason game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers.

The outrage, disappointment and frustration from fans was evident as many had traveled from out of state expecting to watch some of their favorite players play in the first preseason game of the year. And all many of them got in return was lost money in travel expenses.

“On a scale out of 10, I’d say I’m definitely a 10,” said Ryan Fritze, from Portland, Indiana. “This field is fit for high school and college players, but they can’t get it right for NFL players. Safety matters, but there had to be a way around all of this. They have one major event here a year, and they screwed it up. They had a lot of time to prepare for it.

“It cost a lot of people a lot of money. We got a hotel room for the night that we don’t even need anymore. The hotel cost us a couple of hundred dollars. Then there was the money on gas and the ticket to the game. This was a one-day deal. We left this morning to drive over here for nothing. I can’t work tomorrow.”

The game was canceled because of unsafe field conditions for the players at Tom Benson Stadium. The issue was the paint used for the logo at midfield and in the end zones. Baker said fans will be refunded their money for the tickets.

So instead of watching some of the starters play a series or two, fans had to settle for a fanfest-type event that featured a concert and the players standing on the field. Some fans leaned over the rail, trying to get some kind of glimpse as Colts and Packers players made their way back to the locker room. Others left early because that’s not what they came to see.

“On a couple of levels it was rough,” said Thomas Gryniewicz from Milwaukee, who drove nearly eight hours to the game. “It was an investment. Not just the hotel but the game ticket and I had to get my kids taken care of. I had to drive here. Then they didn’t tell us it was canceled until we were in here. We were sitting here and they made us believe the game was going to be played. Somebody is going to be in a lot of trouble for the paint feeling like concrete; or whatever it feels like out there."

Tyler Miller of Worcester, Massachusetts, said he spent more than $1,000 on the weekend trip that also included attending the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. But despite the lost money, he “completely” understands why the game was canceled.

“It’s just an extra preseason game,” Miller said. “Yeah, I’m a Colts fan and I wanted to see some of the new players they brought in, but you also don’t want to see any players get hurt in a game that won’t factor into the regular season.”