Snider on Snyder: "Redskins can no longer treat season ticket holders like ATM's."
Free parking. Free food. It’s no longer business as usual for sports teams anymore.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder, and really every sports team owner, needs to rethink their relationship with fans. Season ticket holders in particular. If it’s not fear of crowds after the coronavirus clears then it’s millions of fans losing their jobs and lacking money for season tickets that will gut attendance. This pandemic will alter America and sports is on the front lines of change.
This fall threatens to be filled with half-empty NFL stadiums. Indeed, after losing at least half their fans over the last few years, the Redskins can no longer treat season-ticket holders like ATMs. They need to show appreciation and support. Remember fans have been there for this team through a quarter century of crummy seasons.
It’s time Snyder paid back Washingtonians with perks.
Nobody expects Snyder to lower ticket prices. That’s not in the DNA. But lots of fans won’t have the money and will instead cherry pick games and buy on the secondary market. That was already happening in good economic times. The coming recession will force hard choices and season tickets are a luxury.
But there’s a game plan to repairing Snyder’s relationship with fans. Creating a coronavirus testing area at the stadium was a great start. And really, say what you want about Snyder messing up the team, but he’s someone you want in time of a medical crisis. Over the years, I’ve seen and heard many stories of the owner helping not only employees with medical problems, but fans, too. He paid for Chief Zee’s funeral. Nobody ever talks about the millions of dollars Snyder raises annually for Children’s Hospital. So, maybe it’s time we start cutting each other a break and move on because we’ll need to work together to get through this current scary present time and coming years.
Next, Snyder needs to dial back on his profits to get more fans into FedEx Field. First off, free parking for season-ticket holders. Parking has always been a money-maker at $50 a pop. It’s one of the reasons why late owner Jack Kent Cooke left RFK Stadium where the city earned all parking and concessions monies.
Those parking lots have longer been paid for so just let it go. Waive the $500 parking fee this season for season ticket buyers.
Same with concessions. Some teams are now including food and non-alcoholic drinks as part of ticket costs. Really, that bottle of water selling for $6 costs 25 cents at Costco and everybody knows it.
Make preseason games $20 each no matter where you sit and not obligate season ticket holders to buy them. Make it the matinee of sorts for everyday fans. Re-energize the base with those who normally can’t afford to come.
Give away trinkets at the gate like the team did at RFK. Slap a corporate sponsor logo on the item so they pay for it.
If the team plays at night, pay for the Metro to stay open. Otherwise, fans need to leave in the third quarter.
Give tickets to one road game annually. Pick out four on the schedule and arrange group travel. Now that would be fun and airlines and hotels are certainly willing to give a cheap rate while they recover, too.
These are no-brainer ideas. Sure, they cost money, but so do empty seats. The Redskins didn’t make any big offseason moves that sell tickets. Few new coaches entice fans to attend games. That’s reserved for quarterbacks and receivers.
The bottom line is the team is heading for an empty stadium once more unless Snyder cuts a deal with fans. Otherwise, watch the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants backers rule FedUp Field once more.
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Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Redskins in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks.