Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Washington Redskins Sure Hate Their Own Fans, Don't They


What a disgrace:
One night last fall, thousands of fans walked into FedEx Field carrying gold towels. From the opening kickoff, it was clear that they were not part of the Washington Redskins burgundy-and-gold. The towel-waving throng cheered for the Pittsburgh Steelers, so loudly that on some downs the Redskins couldn't hear quarterback Jason Campbell call the signals.

Redskins players and many others were puzzled that Steelers fans were able to get their hands on so many coveted tickets. For more than 70 years, the Washington Redskins have boasted that they have sold out every game. Seats are so scarce, the team says, that the waiting list for general admission season tickets has 160,000 names on it.

But the reality is that those who want tickets can often find them online through ticket resellers such as StubHub. And in recent years, the Redskins ticket office itself has sold tickets into this secondary market, making it easier for fans of opposing teams to invade FedEx.

Thousands of general admission tickets were sold to brokers, who resold them on the secondary market, often at higher-than-retail prices, according to interviews and internal Redskin documents. These were often tickets to the very seats that Redskins fans have waited years to get.

The Redskins acknowledged that the sales were made but said they were against team policy.

Redskins General Counsel David Donovan said the prohibited sales were discovered in the spring during an internal audit of last season's ticket contracts and involved about 15 ticket brokering companies. He said the ticket sales employees involved were disciplined. He declined to name the employees or specify the discipline because it was a personnel matter.

"Somebody in the ticket office was doing something they shouldn't have been doing, and when it was discovered, it was all dealt with," Redskins Senior Vice President Karl Swanson said. "If the story is, this is a scandal, uncovered by Redskins, verified by The Post, or whatever, yeah, we're telling you: People got tickets who shouldn't have gotten tickets, and they were dealt with."

Washington is a money-grubbing, stab-you-in-the-back, I-gotta-get-mine kind of a town, and that's just when Congress is in session. Apparently, you can extend that to the jackasses running the ticket enterprise for the Washington Redskins. No amount of money is ever enough, and the shocking greed of such people renders them incapable of understanding the importance of being a fan.

Now, here's where the insidiousness of this is even more evident. Sports Talk 980 (WTEM, AM-980) is, essentially, the only listenable sports talk radio station in the Washington D.C. area. It regularly runs ads by StubHub, the reseller which undercuts the fans by using this broker method, as outlined above. WTEM-AM is, in fact, owned by Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins. Now, explain to me how this process of allowing the company that resells the tickets to advertise on the radio station you use to connect with the fans of your sports team does not tell them to go take a hike when it comes to their own efforts to come by a couple of decent seats to a Washington Redskins football game. It's an incestuous, money-making proposition, and any fan that falls for it deserves to have every dollar in their pocket sucked into Daniel Snyder's teenaged-boy sized pants.

That's right. That guy? Shopping next to Mike Lupica in the boy's department? That's Danny Boy himself, trying to save a few bucks on something off the rack in a 32 Small.

When is it ever going to be enough? When does an organization finally say, okay, we're milking our fans enough, let's stop the gravy train? The NFL doesn't care--the Redskins did nothing illegal. That's all well and good. From a public relations standpoint, doing something perfectly legal still screws the fanbase. There is a finite number of people with the resources to pay these prices and there is a finite number of people who will accept being screwed. The Washington Redskins are betting that the Washington D.C. area, which has a high turnover rate of people moving in and out of the region and which has a relatively high employment rate will continue to see those finite numbers shift just enough to catch the suckers who haven't figured this out yet.

It's never enough. Spare me the phony outrage--whoever was working in that ticket office wasn't putting the money into their own pants. They were sticking that money back into the organization. With a wink and a nod, of course.
The Washington Post basically destroys the credibility of Dan Snyder's money-printing operation and exposes it as a charade and a fan-hating machine that prints money by allowing real Redskins fans to suck wind trying to get tickets that are then sold to the fans of other teams, or are not even sold at all.

Here's how a broker works the Redskins system:
The story of one ticket broker shows how employees of the Redskins ticket office bundled club seats with general admission to make sales.

ASC owner Jeff Greenberg said a Redskins official first reached out to him in 2007 because sales agents were having trouble selling premium-priced club seats, with many fans declining to renew 10-year contracts signed when the stadium opened in 1997.

Greenberg, 42, who has been a ticket broker for 17 years, works out of a storefront in a building he owns in Gaithersburg. The company, which occupies two floors and has 12 employees, sells tickets to concerts, shows and sports events in almost every major venue in the United States.

Constantly switching between his cellphone and land lines, he sits before three computer screens, listing every ticket he buys or sells.

The 2007 arrangement that Greenberg had with the Redskins covered 1,360 individual tickets that he bought for about $60,000, team records show. Most of them were general admission tickets -- 710 in the upper deck and 366 in the lower bowl.

In 2008, ASC bought 217 season tickets (for 10 games) and 2,000 seats to individual games during the season. About half of those seats were in the lower bowl, with most in sections 101 to 142. About 40 percent of the seats were premium, and the rest were in the upper deck.

Greenberg said the contracts required him to buy the premium seats for two years in exchange for being allowed to buy the 169 lower bowl season tickets "in perpetuity."

Remember that the next time someone suggests that professional sports is on the up and up and that the Redskins are a great organization. They're not even bothering to spend an extra nickel and use lube when they give their fans the shaft.

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