It is very easy to complain about Fedex Field (Parking!!! Location sucks!!!), but this is not what this article is about. It takes me 40 minutes or so each way to get to the game, which I don't think is too bad. What this article is meant to address is the fan experience between the whistles. I feel like a customer, not a fan, at Redskins games that is a major problem. As a result, I boycotted the final six home games of the season (still made a few tailgates and then rolled back home). So, what got me to this point?
The bar for my fan experience was set as a kid attending Caps games at USAir Arena and attending many, many Wiz and Caps games at Verizon Center. There was a LOT of losing over those years, but I always had a good time. It makes for a great date and also good night with the fellas. When the action goes to TV timeouts, Verizon Center has always done a fantastic job entertaining the crowd. Abe Pollin and Ted Leonsis manage to entertain the crowd sponsored by a company, which is absolutely OK. I've been to two games each at Metlife Stadium and Ravens Stadium, and not once did they do such tactics of blasting straight commercials. At the least, they simply play a Guns N Roses song and pan the crowd. Constant entertainment!
So that's my main beef. If the Redskins hired me to win the fans back over and make Fedex Field the frenzied, Redskins crowd it once was....how would I do that? Here's the list I would provide Bruce and Dan with reasons of how it would actually make more revenue for the team:
1.) Bring the band back into the end zone crowd. It is pointless having it in upper decks. Can you imagine if a college team did that? Dawg Pound, Black Hole, every team needs a loud section. Fans will react to that and make the stadium louder. Now, that means approximately 100 seats of GUARANTEED, paid butts in the seats are out. With the band back in the lower bowl, those seats now become more premium. We raise the prices on those and we setup a way for season ticket holders on either side of the stadium to swap seats depending if they want to be in the rowdier section. I would easily pay an extra $20-$30 a ticket for it. Surely some fans in the lower bowl handed in their season tickets this year so we use that space to get the band back in.
2.) Add a Family Zone. Several stadiums have them including the Browns and it is imperative to have. Parents want to bring their kids to the game, and as an owner, that is a lifetime of revenue from that kid as they grow up...and his/her kids. Why is Dan Snyder ignoring this? We carve out a section in the upper deck that is alcohol free. It guaranteed will be packed for every game. So many of my friends have sons that are in 3rd grade or higher and they refuse to bring them to the game because of the drunks. That is a MAJOR PROBLEM. And even worse, several of these kids are now Ravens fans as a result of going to Ravens Stadium with their friends. First impressions are everything. Get these kids into the game!
3.) Have Redskins alumni hang out on the club level. A small appearance fee for them is a lifetime memory for 100s of fans. It makes a person's day when they get to take a picture with a former player. That fan will tweet it, Facebook it, and text it to all their friends. That is free advertising for the Club Level. Now what are Redskins fans who see those messages thinking later on: "Hey, since we're going to one game this year, let's get club level tickets. Mary got to meet Ken Harvey last time!!"
4.) Have the Redskins Band play during halftime in Club Level. At one point the club level used to be a great. They'd have a cover band play music at the half and it was a very fun party. All that is now gone and at halftime fans are left to just stand around and talk. They are selling an average experience at a premium price. The Redskins Band is already paid for, split them up on each endzone bar and have them play their hits, "Play that Funky Music Whiteboy, etc." They are all professional musicians. It's sad to see them sit so much.
5.) Purge all full-length commercials over jumbotron and PA. Fans paid to come to the game and to be entertained. There's an elegant way to make ad revenue and entertain the fans...showing just straight up commercials CLEARLY states organization cares more about revenue than fan experience. The time it got me most livid was when an ad came on right after a Redskins TD kickoff and the Lions offense came out to a silent crowd. I've personally never seen another stadium do it and is the main reason I stopped going to games. That is lost beer and food revenue there and I am not even close to the only one. Many of my friends that tailgate around me refuse to spend a single dollar at Fedex. They simply go without beer even though they want one so bad.
5.) Replace those ads with Dance Cam, Flex Cam, Fan of the Game, Seat Upgrades, Bandwagon cam, and skits made to look real making fun of opposing fans. It's fun entertainment and the team can sell these where companies can sponsor it.
7.) Bring back the TV trucks in the parking lots for primetime games. It was Bruce Allen's first year. During night games, the tailgates are especially long (and fun). One year the Redskins set up massive TVs on top of semi-trailer trucks where we could all watch the 4pm games as we tailgated. It was fantastic. To offset the costs, we put company logos on either side of the TVs and/or truck itself.
8.) Pay respect to the diehard fans. Our biggest die-hard fans (SuperSkin, Uncle Skins, Chief Zee, Huly ...continually show them on jumbotron to rile the crowd up like Caps with Goat and Horn Guy)....shows we care about the ones that do much support for us during the bad times.
9.) A custom hype song. So many teams have hype songs to get the crowd going. I was at a Saints game and after a score Stand Up and Get Crunk - Ying Yang came on the jumbotron (no company logos!!!). The place went BANANAS. It was loud when the team scored, but when this song came on...I literally had to cover my ears. I'm a regular at the 9:30 Club and stand by the speakers and never once have had to cover my ears. Please watch that video...they're wearing Saints jerseys and it's an anthem. Dan Snyder could tap DC natives, Wale, and/or DJ Kool, to write some rap hook they can play during a TV timeout late in the game when the Redskins opponent is driving. Anyone who has experienced the Caps' "Unleash the Fury" knows what I am talking about.
10.) Season Ticket Holder Profile (sponsored by company). During one TV timeout a game, show a sixty second interview with a current season ticket holder talking about how long they've been a Skins fan and their favorite memory. Then show them live in stands. New and prospective season ticket holders will long to be a part of that. Some fans still go to Fedex Field 50+ years running. Praise them!
11.) Giveaways - What happened to the giveaways? There should be one EVERY game. Get corporate sponsors to pony up some nice hats, gloves, etc for first 30K. Quality giveaways means more people in the stadium early ($$$ revenue) and more fans in their seats for kickoff. As an owner, I want my fan base in Redskins gear 24x7 during the week. People wear these giveaway clothes for YEARS.
12.) Bruce and Snyder should visit the club level pre-game every now and then. Would help sell those hard to sell tickets, engage with the fans, and it gets people in the stadium earlier ($ revenue and people aren't intoxicated yet). Mr. Rooney still walks to each home game saying hello to fans on the walk. Does it get any better than that?
13.) Fix the obstructed view seats. If anyone has sat here before it is roughing it. The TVs are ancient boxes and played Pirates of the Caribbean III instead of the game! Ken wrote about that experience in detail earlier this year. Many companies provide rugged flat screens. I'd have the sales department work out a deal to get 200 installed in return for free advertising on those TVs.
14.) Fun ways to increase crowd noise. I was at the Wizards game last night and right before a foul shot a message came up on the Jumbotron that if he misses this free throw, everyone wins a free Chick-Fil-a sandwich. The crowd went crazy and he missed the free throw. The Redskins could do similar things for opponents when they line up for FGs. Another money stream.
What baffles me is that Dan Snyder is such a die-hard Redskins fan, but he is oblivious to how bad things have gotten inside his stands. Surely there is a reason he has not taken action like Ted Leonsis has so many times?
I have another solid ten ideas I could provide, but since the Redskins organization is so focused on making money off me, they can pay for my services for the rest. These fourteen would make a world of difference though. Please Redskins....I want to come back to Fedex Field and spend my money. Show us that love.
[Editor Note: 1/19/2014 ]
15.) Wifi. Per reader dcwarpath's comment below, Wifi coverage for fans would be a nice addition. It's near impossible to get any tweets out (forget attaching pictures).