Attendance sparse as Redskins kick off home opener

Yahoo Sports

Like all pro sports teams, the Washington Redskins are struggling with how to get fans off the couch and into the stadium. Unlike most teams, the Redskins have — correction, had — a long history of faithful, pack-the-stands fans. Now? Not so much.

Plenty of good seats still available!

This was before the game, but attendance at Washington-Indianapolis wasn’t up to past years. (Getty)
This was before the game, but attendance at Washington-Indianapolis wasn’t up to past years. (Getty)

After a convincing, competent win against Arizona last week, Washington returned for its home debut at FedEx Field Sunday with dark clouds looming. The Redskins had once claimed to have 200,000 names on their season-ticket waiting list — inflating numbers in Washington, wow, what a crazy concept — but earlier this summer revealed that the waiting list is no more, and you can call and get your season tickets right now if you want. Please. Please call.

Team president Bruce Allen tried to spin the bad news in advance, telling local media on Friday, “The only thing we can do is go out there and try to prove we’re the best team. The game days do it … if you work hard and give everything you have on Sunday, we’ll probably like the results.”

Of course, fewer season-ticket holders means fewer butts in seats, and a prolonged lack of success leads to fans voting with their wallets, and that leads to what we saw on Sunday, a wide-open house:


And this:


And this:


It’s a dramatic comedown from the Redskins’ glory days of the ’80s. The team has tried several incentives to season-ticket holders — a subscription to NFL RedZone, access to “special entertainment areas” of the stadium — but, in the end, the fact remains: a season ticket to the Redskins means you have to watch the Redskins.

Why isn’t anyone going to Redskins games?

Well, for starters, Washington stinks, and they’ve stunk for a long, long time. Washington has won exactly one playoff game this millennium, and has been to the playoffs only four times since 1999. The most dynamic player the franchise had seen in decades — that would be Robert Griffin III — saw his knee, and his career, shredded during one of those playoff games. Team management under Daniel Snyder has spent most of the last two decades viewing the loyal Redskins fanbase with a combination of disregard and contempt, charging fans some of the highest ticket prices in the game. FedEx Field is in a remote location, relatively speaking, and lacks the amenities of most modern stadiums despite the fact that it opened in 1997.

Plus, there’s the fact that going to an NFL game is expensive and loud, and sitting on your couch watching your HD TV with your own beer and your own bathroom can be an equally enjoyable experience. (If you want to blame kneeling too, sure, go ahead.) Every team’s suffering from these kinds of woes, but when you once hit the heights the Redskins did, the fall is that much sharper.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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