Quick, check your TV Guide. Is there a show on HGTV called "Stadium Crashers?" If not, something funny continues to transpire in
I have asked this question before in this space. Today's iteration of this question is spurred on by the same activity that caused me to wonder about this the first time: the removal of seats at FedEx Field. According to the Washington Post, the Redskins have removed "thousands of seats." It seems that most of the upper deck sections have lost the top eight rows of seats, replaced by "tall metal poles jutting out from the concrete floor of the grandstand."
There is a simple explanation ready for acceptance: seating supply is FAR greater than demand. I have attended just about every game in that stadium for over fifteen years. I have been a longstanding season ticket holder, and I have been a longstanding participant in the secondary market. Guess which one cost me about TEN TIMES more? True story.
Still, when I first learned of the initial seat removal phase, I was informed by an extremely reliable source that the team was looking to put the steel superstructure in place to support a roof. They took out gobs of seats in the end zones, opening up what at least appeared to be a good space to construct supports for a roof. I just could never figure out what they were going to do on the sides. Now, with the "top eight rows of many sections in the stadium's upper deck" removed and "tall metal poles jutting out from the concrete floor," it is kind of coming together in my mind.
To be fair, the Redskins don't keep me in the know on such projects. The truth is, there are multiple answers here that would make at least as much sense--if not more--than a roof construction. From the terrible stadium experience fans routinely comment on, to the presence of way too many opposing teams' fans, to the traffic, to the general awesomeness of watching at home--FedEx is winning over fans at a rate similar to the team's success on the field itself. Taking seats out of FedEx is absolutely one way to start cutting away at some of the problems that plague it.
Still...we know how badly Dan Snyder wants a Super Bowl in Washington. We know how badly he wants a Final Four. We know how badly he wants to position FedEx as the premier regional venue for any and all major events. Could there be kind of a perfect storm here? Abysmal demand and mind-numbingly terrible stewardship render thousands of seats useless to the universe. Ambition and desire to transform the property serves to spur activity. Without a roof, that ambition will never be rewarded.
I think we could all accept the explanation that the team simply believes it can better serve a smaller audience. I think we would all be thankful to see this result in fewer fans of opposing teams. Even for those of you watching at home, I am sure there would be widespread appreciation if the crowd played better on TV--as in, looked more pro-Redskins, sounded more pro-Redskins, and existed after halftime.
All (or most) signs point to the Redskins organization wanting a new stadium, with even Bruce Allen indicating that the team wants something with a coziness similar to RFK Stadium. Everything I hear says they seriously intend to build that stadium in Virginia (let's not harp on this rumor today please--I will give this topic its own space in the near future). New stadiums in the NFL tend to get preferential treatment in the rewarding of Super Bowls. This does not bode well for my hunch that the team is putting a roof on FedEx.
Yet, I continue to have this hunch. I continue to believe that the Redskins are making moves to build some kind of support structure for a roof. One reason I think this: at some point, FedEx Field is going to look like the damn Death Star. You know the one--from Return of the Jedi, not A New Hope. Operational, but unfinished and aesthetically unpleasing.
Do we really believe that the Redskins think the best way to handle this situation is by making us all feel like we need to be wearing hardhats at the game? Instead of a few sections being removed, it is beginning to look more like they just aren't finished building the place yet.
Finally, Dan Snyder is always angling for the moment when he can say, "See? This is what I was doing the whole time, dummy." I mean, you can tarp off sections of seats. That is stadium management 101. It is done everywhere. A tarp is a temporary fix, while ripping out sections of your stadium is, uhhhh, kind of permanent. It is the vasectomy of seat control--not irreversible, but once you go through it, the mere thought of reversal is painful.
To me, it seems as if the organization needs that space for a permanent solution to the lack of a roof. Then again, this from the guy who brings you 10-6 every year...I guess we will just have to wait and see.