Gather ’round kids, because it’s time to talk about something that will blow your young minds: The Washington Redskins were once one of the premier franchises in the NFL. Maybe even No. 1 on that list for a time.
It’s not like Washington’s proud history has been forgotten. Fans of a certain age still talk about the Joe Gibbs era, the amazing 1991 team that Mark Rypien led to glory, how the RFK Stadium stands used to bounce and shake for big games. But success has led to frustration during Daniel Snyder’s time as owner, and that frustration has led to something even worse: apathy.
According to the Associated Press and Washington Post, fans have tuned out the Redskins to the point that you can call now and buy season tickets. There’s no waiting list anymore. According to the Post, the Redskins sent an email to fans saying, “Season Ticket Memberships will be immediately available to all Redskins fans.”
No more waiting, you can get Redskins season tickets now
The Redskins said they were opening up season tickets to anyone who wanted them, according to the Post, and there’s no waiting list as a result.
The Post said that while there was some skepticism about how large that waiting list actually was at its apex, the team claims it once had 200,000 names.
Now, you’re free to grab season tickets.
“We want to have the best home-field advantage in the National Football League,” new Redskins president of business operations Brian Lafemina said at a news conference, according to the Post. “What that means is having rabid Redskins fans sitting in FedEx Field every single week. And the best way to do that is to make sure that fans who want to be season ticket members are allowed to be them today.”
Why are the Redskins having attendance issues?
As the Associated Press pointed out, the Redskins ranked 28th in the NFL last season at 88 percent capacity. The team had expanded seating to beyond 91,000 at one point, but it’s about 82,000 now and still not filling up. There are plenty of reasons for the dip, but the most obvious shift is that the team hasn’t been very good for most of this century.
Washington has won one playoff game since the end of the 1999 season, a wild-card win at Tampa Bay at the end of the 2005 season. They have been to the playoffs just four times since 1999. Aside from a fun 2012 season when Robert Griffin III became the hottest name in the NFL, the Redskins haven’t mattered much in years. And we all know how the RG3 era turned out.
There are other reasons. The team’s stadium in Landover, Md. was almost immediately outdated, and it’s in a fairly remote area. Snyder is trying to get a new stadium built, and the team probably needs it.
Snyder himself is a problem. The team has made an amazing number of public relations mistakes (a story about mistreatment of cheerleaders being the latest), as paranoia over media coverage has seemingly become as much of a focus for the organization as the product on the field. It’s hard to imagine a less popular owner than Snyder.
Other factors out of the Redskins’ control haven’t helped either.
The NFL as a whole has a bit of an attendance problem
The NFL as a whole will have a bit of an attendance problem (and no, not because of kneeling players). Going to an NFL game is expensive, makes for a long day, and is often unenjoyable because of some rowdy fans. It’s a better experience, in some ways, to watch at home, and it’s clearly cheaper. NFL attendance won’t crater, but there will be challenges to draw fans to games as more people decide to watch from home.
That issue isn’t exclusive to Washington. But the combination of bad ownership, a lackluster stadium and a middling team doesn’t help the Redskins. The good news is that if you’re an eternal optimist who believes in a Redskins revival, it’s easy to get on the ground floor now with season tickets.
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