SNIDER: Redskins finally realize fans need to be treated better

Rick Snider
June 13, 2018 - 6:12 pm

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins' season-ticket list officially died on June 13, 2018 after nearly two decades on life support.

The Redskins President of Business Operations and Chief Operating Officer Brian Lafemina said there are no secrets around the team anymore in conceding the list's demise.

Then again, it has been no secret the list -- that once supposedly reached 200,000 when the team moved from little 54,000-seat RFK Stadium to FedEx Field in 1997 -- was played out by 2002. Some 20,000 seats have since been removed in recent years, and visiting fans sometimes outnumber Washington backers in the 71,000-seat venue.

So, Lafemina decided to take the honest approach in his second week running the team, and announced new measures on Wednesday designed to get more season-ticket holders. A hefty discount on food (not beer) and express access into the stadium are nice enticements. Interest-free payments on season tickets and complimentary NFL Red Zone and Game Pass are good perks, too.

Essentially, Lafemina ended the organization's stance since owner Dan Snyder's 1999 arrival, that fans are an unrelenting money machine that can be abused and neglected. Not that predecessor owner Jack Kent Cooke was much better, but at least game programs included a free item, like a lapel pin or team patch.

Redskins games feel like a mugging with $50 parking, $9.50 beers and a family's food purchase of burgers and fries costing a crisp new Benjamin.

The team will sell individual game tickets, though, for more than they cost in a season-ticket plan. Groups can buy tickets for one game, too.

The Redskins need to rebuild their fanbase, especially now that the Capitals won the Stanley Cup championship with a fever that has swept the city. The team is also looking at new stadium sites for 2027, where prices will certainly be much higher, so best to grow the fanbase to ready for that sticker shock. The days of RFK nostalgia no longer carry over to FedEx as those fans are aging out of attendance.

Of course, the best thing to lure fans from their living rooms and soon-to-be gambling parlors is winning. Nothing beats success, but a non-abusive financial relationship is a good start. The team has improved its customer service over recent years. Parking lot attendants are remarkably friendly. Still, winning is everything.

"We want to grab back our home-field advantage," Lafemina said.

Treating fans better is certainly a good start. Making the playoffs is even better.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks