The Washington Redskins, one of the NFL’s most popular and storied franchises, have been quietly dealing premium tickets for years to more than a dozen ticket brokers, according to a bombshell report in The Washington Post, but the team said it plans to stop the practice after this season.
Thousands of tickets were being funneled to brokers through Redskins ticket staffers, reportedly unbeknownst to several of the team’s top executives, while more than 150,000 people were on the waiting list for tickets. Many of those wait-listed fans were in the market for less expensive tickets, always the first to be snapped up, and not the premium seats that many of the brokers had access to.
The report, which The Washington Post had been working on since the spring, peeled back the veil of secrecy that many sports teams operate under to ensure that their stadiums stay full and that they also maintain the perception that the team’s games are among the hottest tickets in town, a scheme that brokers have long known that teams do.
“Teams and leagues don’t want those tickets discounted in the primary market. On the secondary market, it’s okay. It is aftermarket. Very standard,” Don Vaccarro, founder and CEO of TicketNews’s parent company TicketNetwork, told The Washington Post.”I see major sports teams, the major leagues, are going to look to get tickets out, put butts in seats, without lowering the prices that their season ticket holders are paying.”
To hear Redskins officials tell it, some rogue ticket office employees were making the deals with as many as 15 brokers, and premium tickets to sought-after games, such as the Giants, Cowboys and Steelers were made available to brokers if they also bought less desirable games, such as the Rams.
“Somebody in the ticket office was doing something they shouldn’t have been doing, and when it was discovered, it was all dealt with,” Karl Swanson, the team’s senior vice president, told The Washington Post. “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.”
The Redskins have sued more than 130 season ticket holders in recent years who tried to get out of their season ticket obligations, and the team often took some of those seats and sold them to brokers, according to The Washington Post. Attempts to reach team officials were unsuccessful.
Jeff Greenberg, owner of Maryland-based ASC Ticket, was featured in the report and he has contracts with the team to buy hundreds of seats through this season. After this campaign, Greenberg’s contracts expire, but he has nearly perfected the ability to obtain Redskins tickets from season ticket holders and other sources.
“The Redskins always dealt with us fairly and honestly,” Greenberg told TicketNews. “After finding out they didn’t want to deal with brokers any more, we came to a quick resolution on what tickets I would get for this season.”
Greenberg worked with the team for two years, and he said he doesn’t have similar deals with other NFL teams, but added that he believes moving premium tickets will be harder for the team in the future.
“I was surprised to hear that they may have been working with up to 14 other brokers beside myself,” Greenberg said.