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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."

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 5, 2009; 10:59 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Got my invoice in the mail earlier this week too. Hard to afford sometimes, but they sort of have you over a barrell when you wait so long for the opportunity to buy them in the first place...

Posted by: suzannepdc | February 5, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I came off the waiting list about 4 years ago and also figured I'd have my tickets for life even though I live in New York City. But now I don't know what to do. It's not even the price so much as the product on the field. There's no worse feeling than leaving FedEx after a loss, especially after paying a thousand bucks for the privelege. Right now my invoice is sitting in my backpack. Who knows where it'll end up.

Posted by: Dexcanread | February 5, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm the same way. I got my season tickets 3 seasons ago after waiting 10+years and I figured I'd have them for life. I haven't gotten my invoice yet, but I wonder what the cost will be this year and if I should just scrap it. The experience at FEDEX just isn't all that great. The product on the field isn't the issue, but the stadium, the food, the boorishness, the on field entertainment make it unenjoyable.

Posted by: kevin2504 | February 5, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

my family has had 4 season tickets since my great-grandfather got them in the 40's. i am sad to say beacuse of the crappy game day experince and poor product on the field we are not renewing this year

BTW we were in sec. 121 (50 yard line on the sunny side of the stadium)

F danny the ultimate d-bag a-hole

Posted by: jonthefisherman | February 5, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who says he's giving up tickets in section 121 is lying or foolish. You could easily sell them for more than twice what they cost or sell 2-3 weeks to pay for the whole year! I had the opportunity to buy seats in section 141 at face value for several years. It got to the point where I hated to go: the traffic, parking, annoying drunks, out of town fans, lines in the men's rooms, indiscernible screen, manufactured noise, etc. But there is no shortage of people who would love those seats.

Posted by: davidsamantha | February 5, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

i am not lying. most weeks you are lucky to get face value. you are foolish because you speak out of your azz davidsamantha.
plus your sentiment of
"It got to the point where I hated to go: the traffic, parking, annoying drunks, out of town fans, lines in the men's rooms, indiscernible screen, manufactured noise, etc" is shared by more and more people each year

it is pretty hard to get more than face value when you have more people outside of fedex trying to sell than people trying to buy. and when there is 5,000+ seats available on stubhub FOR EVERY GAME

Posted by: jonthefisherman | February 6, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Last post! (for now)

Yeah, I just got off of the waiting list after years on, and what with the $100 per seat fee and price, I decided against it. Just last season I'd dropped by obstructed view seat, though I'll sheepishly admit I got more than face for every ticket I had to sell over three seasons except preseason (duh) and the Bolts (strange, huh?).

The deal is, there are so many tickets available -- StubHub, outside FedEx, or the annual May OV selection season -- there's no great reason to pony up in advance unless you're just dying to be club guy. OV seats aren't a bad deal, and there are actually some decent site lines down there (I took the train from Charleston, SC to sit in mine; that's a trip, folks), but if I was stuck in the upper deck, I might as well watch on TV. It was neat saying you'd been to a Gibbs coached game, but now what's the draw past Buges?

Posted by: WorstSeat | February 9, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

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