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Volume 25 No. 110

Franchises

A series of in-game and stadium enhancements were introduced to lure fans, but it didn't pan out

The Redskins' 50-year sellout streak ended yesterday, as the "official attendance was just 57,013" for the team's home opener against the Colts, according to Matthew Paras of the WASHINGTON TIMES. The Redskins "reported an attendance of 78,685 for last year's opener" against the Eagles. The Redskins have changed their "approach on how to market to fans -- officially acknowledging the elimination of their long-touted season-ticket waiting list, while emphasizing the ability to purchase single-game tickets." The team also "introduced a series of in-game and stadium enhancements designed to lure fans" to FedExField. Those efforts were on display yesterday, with a "new pregame introduction that featured pyrotechnics and fewer commercials on the jumbotron during the course of the game." However, the team's "marketing blitz did not appear to translate into fans actually purchasing tickets." The upper level was "noticeably empty, and there were seats available in the lower bowl" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/17).

GONE ARE THE GLORY DAYS: In DC, Clarke & Blint-Welsh in a front-page piece note there were "swaths of empty seats" at FedExField for Colts-Redskins, and a large section of 300-level end zone seats were "covered with advertising signage." The "patchy crowd continued a decade-long slide," as average attendance for Redskins games has dropped 15% since '07 (WASHINGTON POST, 9/17). Also in DC, Thom Loverro writes the Redskins currently have a "zombie-like fan base." Next week, FedExField "won't look so empty" because Packers fans tend to "fill up opposing stadiums" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/17). YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote the drop is a "dramatic comedown from the Redskins' glory days of the '80s." The team has "tried several incentives to season-ticket holders ... but, in the end, the fact remains: a season ticket to the Redskins means you have to watch the Redskins" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/16).

TWITTER REAX: DC radio personality Kevin Sheehan tweeted the team's lowest home-opener crowd in "two decades is a result of many things IMO but the short list in order....1. losing 2. losing 3. the stadium 4. organizational dysfunction & arrogance 5. convenience/cost of watching at home." WJFK-AM's Rick Snider: "The upper deck was nearly empty ... big gaps in the lower deck." TheSportsCapitol.com's Ben Standig: "At least management acknowledges an issue. The potential fix won't come quick." The AP's Will Graves: "The most stunning development in the #NFL yesterday wasn't that the #Redskins saw their 'sellout' streak end ... but that they [were] up front about it."

The drop has come after the Fire's best season ever at the gate and second best season in their history
Photo: ORLANDO CITY

A number of the MLS "legacy teams," like the Fire, are "struggling at the gate" this season, according to Paul Kennedy of SOCCER AMERICA. The Fire's 4-0 win over Orlando City yesterday at Toyota Park "shined a spotlight" on the team's situation. The Fire are next to last in the Eastern Conference standings and have the second "largest MLS attendance drops" by percentage, behind only the Crew, down 18% from last season. FS1's John Strong and Stuart Holden addressed some of the "issues facing the Fire -- including an on-going dispute" between the team's front office and its supporters group. Strong said of the atmosphere at Toyota Park yesterday, "This amount of palpable silence, in a league in which atmospheres are one of the calling cards for MLS is ... tough." Holden said, "Being brutally honest, it sounds like a reserve game." Kennedy noted the "scary part" is that yesterday's attendance of 16,297 was the "third largest of the season at Toyota Park for a Fire game and larger than three of the other 10 MLS games over the weekend." What makes the situation "startling" is that the Fire are coming off their "best season ever at the gate" and second best season in the club's 21-year history (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 9/17).