When you are yanking out 6,000 seats while simulataneously claiming a "waiting list" of somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 wanna-be season ticket holders, then just about every bullshit meter, siren, and flashing red strobe light starts going off in your brain.
As Dave McKenna puts it succinctly in his lead at the Washington City Paper - "Supply is kicking demand's ass at FedEx Field."
Yes, that's the same McKenna and same City Paper being sued by Dan Snyder for defamation.
Hmm. Seems like the lawsuit is failing to silence either one of them, just like a fake waiting list is failing to fill Snyder's cavernous acropolis of FAIL.
As you can expect, there WILL BE spin. The team is saying many things, most of which sound like that guy "Baghdad Bob" during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Washington Times reports:
The team source said the project was about “enhancing the fan experience” and unrelated to any possible decrease in demand for tickets.Of course.
But I have some nagging little questions.
1. How long does it take to complete a project like this? You would think Jan 1 to Sep 1 with a motivated contractor would do the job. Last year's jumbotron installation and smaller "party decks" were completed easily in time for the pre-season. On this one, the Redskins admit the party decks won't be operational until 2012.
2. How come the team STILL, won't comment on the plans for these decks? If it's a "good thing" as Martha Stewart would say, then come out and trumpet this "good thing." Show us the architectural plans. Put out a glossy brochure.
3. What about fans who actually LIKED those seats? Do they get a full refund? If they are moved into other "better" seats, are they required to pay the difference in the cost? Were there really 6,000 unsold seats sprinkled throughout the rest of the stadium that can accommodate everyone?
4. How can you justify a major cost for a project like this, when you are almost sure to bring in less money? Let's run some crude math. The party decks will cost $10 million, I'm guessing. Last year's jumbotron's + "stomp decks" cost $20 million. I'll knock off half that cost, assuming the TV's cost a mint. This figure could be revised upwards, though, depending on how elaborate these "party decks" are. Will they be covered? Partially enclosed? Climate controlled?
So you now have upwards of 6,000 seats that will be gone in 2011 (assuming there's a season) at a loss of conservatively $2.5 million because you couldn't perform this upgrade in one off-season. Then you spend $10 million or more, to reduce all future earning of those 6,000 seats from $75 per game (estimate) to something like $30 per game (estimate).
And this makes business sense? Can extra $9 beers make up the difference?
Again, I premise all of this on the good faith assumption that 200,000 people are desperately trying to get into the building.
Which, ahem, may not be the case.
So if this move to trim the FedEx Field sails prevents future blackouts, then hey, bravo Mr. Snyder! Thank you, as a fan who almost never goes to the stadium, and watches Mike Shanahan botch end-of-game timeout usage from the comfort of my basement.
On the other hand, if the party decks prove to be an unpopular failure, then this might just be a temporary bump on a long fall of attendance at Redskins games.
Can the NFL look the other way in 3 years at a FedEx Field with creepy party decks full of drunken out of town fans, with 10,000 unsold seats in the upper deck?
As McKenna reminds everyone with a short memory: "It wasn’t so long ago (2005, actually) that the team was so cocky about general admission ticket demand that it forced customers to use a Redskins Extra Points MasterCard to buy season tickets."
Those heady days are gone. Dark days are here. And getting darker.