The Economy, and Your Redskins Tickets
For months, sports sections have been churning out "what does this economic mess mean for Franchise X" stories, with lots of grim-sounding talk from analyst and front-office types. I don't write about leading economic indicators--I leave that to my wife--but I do write about local sports fans, so here's what a couple Redskins season ticket holders are thinking.
Mike Vacin, a 35-year-old P.G. County-bred 'Skins fan, got on the waiting list for season tickets in 1991, and got his upper-level seats about six years ago. He figured he'd keep them for the rest of his life, or at least until he could move closer to the field. But he's in sales, and times are what they are, and he pays several hundred bucks for the Sunday Ticket, and he loves his HD, and he's not sure where the franchise is heading. When he recently got his invoice for $1,700 last week, well....
"Now, it would actually crush me to get rid of them, but it just doesn't seem like the smart financial thing to do for my family right now," Mike told me. "If I was rolling, I'd just suck it up, because I could justify it in my head. But I don't have the disposable income that I've had in years past, and it just doesn't seem like a wise investment....Honestly, if it was a more fun experience and the whole game-day experience was better, I could probably justify it somehow in my head and still get it. But I'm not gonna put myself in a worse spot just to be able to go to the football game."
Mike's friend Karl Grebe, on the other hand, will definitely keep his two upper-level seats and his two obstructed-view lower-level seats, but he's giving up on his two club seats after six seasons. He refinanced his house and took equity out to pay for the seats he's keeping, because he wants his son to have access to the games. But he works for the P.G. County government and is facing furloughs, and he couldn't justify the pricier club investment, despite e-mails from his ticket salesman every other day.
"I pretty much knew I was done with the clubs back in October," he told me. "When I bought those seats, I had the money. But with the times right now and the furloughs we're facing, I just knew I couldn't afford it any more."
Mike still hasn't ruled out renewing his seats, but said he's about 90 percent sure he'll give them up. Half of the issue is the cost and the economy, he said, and half concerns the Redskins experience: the tiny screen, the spotty replays and out-of-town scores, the weekly parking headache, the seeming lack of accountability from the team's top decision-makers, and the sometimes dodgy behavior of fellow fans.
"Nowadays, it just seems like being at home is just as much fun as going to the game," he said. "If I was in my early 20s I'd be having a ball there too, I know I would. But it's just not as fun as it was back in the RFK days. Don't get me wrong, I love the team and I always will. But I just don't know what' I'm gonna do. I really don't."
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