The Washington Redskins probably scapegoated the wrong guy for the fans tuning out the team. But, you can’t fire the owner.
Back in May, the Redskins hired Brian Lafemina as president of business operations and chief operating officer. They also added new chief marketing officer Steve Ziff and senior vice president of consumer sales Jake Bye, and touted “fan-focused enhancements” led by their new executives.
Lafemina came to the Redskins after years with the NFL and a lot of respect for the job he did there. Even though he lost his job, a long track record of Redskins ineptitude indicates he wasn’t the problem.
Redskins have turned off their fans
The Redskins, in their outdated stadium that’s not convenient to most fans, had trouble selling tickets before the season even started. It’s the first time in decades that was the case. The Richmond Times-Dispatch said the team hasn’t sold out a home game this season. The low point probably came during a blowout loss to the Giants, when fans left in droves at halftime.
Lafemina came to the Redskins after eight seasons with the NFL leading “club business development,” and owner Daniel Snyder seemed excited about the addition. The team itself said “the league saw significant growth in game day fan satisfaction, season tickets sales, suite sales, local sponsorship and media revenue” during Lafemina’s time there.
“Brian has been one of the most highly regarded NFL executives amongst league ownership for many years because of his deep understanding of our business, his focus on partner relationships and his genuine belief that fans must be at the center of every decision we make,” Snyder said in a statement in May.
There was a revamped method to buying season tickets, better concession prices for season-ticket holders and other benefits for them too.
“Our goal is to serve our fans in a first-class manner each and every day by putting them at the center of every decision we make. It begins with listening to them and continually cultivating and improving their experiences throughout the year,” Lafemina said in June, according to the team’s site.
Spoiler alert: Fans aren’t staying away or walking out of FedEx Field this season because they weren’t satisfied with the concession prices.
Redskins might make more changes
The Redskins have become perhaps the most unlikable franchise in the NFL during Snyder’s ownership. All of the ill will from the numerous missteps would be solved by winning, but Washington hasn’t done much of that lately. Washington has won one playoff game this century, a wild-card round victory over the Buccaneers at the end of the 2005 season.
There could be more changes after the season. Coach Jay Gruden can’t feel all too safe. Team president Bruce Allen, who reportedly led the controversial decision to claim Reuben Foster off waivers right after the 49ers cut him for an arrest over a domestic violence allegation, hasn’t done much to fix the roster. And Allen refused to answer questions about the Foster acquisition, letting senior VP of player personnel Doug Williams do that instead (it didn’t turn out well).
Snyder has been the constant through all of the failure on the field and the apathy from the stands. For anyone in the business office for the Redskins who was let go Wednesday it might be for the best to leave that organization, even after just seven months on the job.
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