The Washington Redskins, one of the NFL’s most popular teams, is finding itself in the eye of a storm over its ticketing practices, which were first brought to light in a pair of scathing articles by The Washington Post.
Team officials admitted that some of their employees were selling premium and general admission tickets to brokers, tickets that in some cases had come from the canceled accounts of season ticket holders that the Redskins sued when they tried to back out of their season ticket commitment. In many cases, the lawsuits targeted people who had lost their jobs or otherwise fell on hard times during the rough economy.
In a blog post on Redskins’ fan site Riggo’s Rag entitled, “Shame on the Redskins’ Ticket Office,” the author blasts the team, and owner Dan Snyder, for taking advantage of fans on the team’s ticket waiting list.
“The Washington Redskins’ ticket office apparently realizes it can have its cake and eat it too. That is to say, the Redskins can brag about the huge waiting list for season tickets while selling thousands of general admission tickets to ticket brokers,” the author wrote. “The Redskins can also tell existing season ticket holders like myself they will be moved toward the 50 yard line while selling choice general admission seats to brokers. Who sits in the seats people on the waiting list would love to have? Often, fans from other teams. Who sits in the seats near the 50-yard line? Fans from other teams.”
That sentiment was echoed all over the internet as various blogs, publications and online magazines – even on the Redskins official message board – laid into the team for what they consider to be rather heartless treatment of its fans. The team has yet to make a public statement about the ticketing situation, except for quotes in The Post’s articles.
“Meanwhile, the local baseball team, the Nationals, refuses to sue fans, and notes that it’s pretty simple to deal with people who fail to live up to their contract: you take away their tickets and resell them,” one of the bloggers wrote on TechDirt. “And, just for comparison purposes, we’re talking about the Nationals, who are averaging one of the lowest average attendance rates in all of baseball. Compare that to the Redskins, who have a stunning record of selling out every home game since 1968. In other words, if anyone had a reason to go after those not paying, it would be the Nationals. The Redskins can easily resell the tickets.”
The screaming has grown so loud that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, during a meeting with national media on Thursday, took time out to defend the team’s actions by emphasizing that the move was only done by some of the team’s ticketing staff, who broke the team’s policy.
“Some of their employees did that. I just want to make that clear. I don’t think that was with the authorization of the Redskins. . . . Some of their employees did it, and they discovered it and took actions several months ago. . . . I support that they took actions on it. Dan [Snyder, the Redskins owner] made me aware of it several months ago,” The Washington Post quoted Goodell as saying. The Post had a team of reporters working on the story since March.
Goodell also defended the team for suing fans who broke their season ticket contracts
“Those are decisions that every club is going to have to make and it’s not unique to the Redskins. There are other teams that have done that to enforce their contracts. Most of the time, as you know — it’s not done every time — it’s done with someone who’s in a long-term contract in a suite or a club seat,” Goodell said.