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Posted at 3:10 PM ET, 12/15/2010

Larry Michael defends the FedEx Field experience

By Dan Steinberg

Taken with love from Tuesday's episode of Redskins Nation.

Question from Travis in La Plata, Maryland:

There were only 66,000 people at the game. By my count, that's 25,000 tickets that could not be sold or given away. You seem to think fans are lining up to go to these games. It's just as I told you two weeks ago, the team stinks and so does the game-day experience. How do you know sitting in your warm, dry broadcast booth?

Response from Larry Michael

Well, number one, Travis, it's not warm. Ok, the broadcast booth is open. I'm sitting in the front row of the broadcast booth. It is cold. Believe me, we're wearing gloves up there. You should see Sonny and Sam, how they're bundled up up there. It is cold. But I'll give you this, it is dry.

Now, I really don't blame a lot of fans for not coming to a game where it was a pouring rain and cold, but I do take exception to the game-day experience. I think the fans love the new video boards, and I think the experience at FedEx Field is reflected by the win total. Unfortunately, when you don't win, fans don't go happy. Thus, comments about the fan experience.

And of course, I really respect your opinion, Travis, love your e-mails. Keep 'em coming, and I'll shoot straight with you.

Objective Look

ESPN ranked the stadium experience at all 32 NFL venues over the summer. Pre-video boards, yes.

The Redskins were 26th in the NFL, which was fairly close to their finish by record. And, as Michael suggested, the best-ranked teams in stadium experience all tended to be successful, but the correlation wasn't perfect.

Last year's 12 playoff teams ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 13th, 18th, 21st, 28th and 31st in fan experience. The 2008 playoffs also included the 8th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 22nd and 24th-ranked teams.

ESPN does not, so far as I know, rank broadcast booth warmth.

By Dan Steinberg  | December 15, 2010; 3:10 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Somebody should ask Larry if he thinks the fans enjoy hearing him selling junk through the loudspeakers during the game. From my seats, it makes me want to go deaf.

Here is what the fans will enjoy. The day Larry is replaced and no longer the Baghdad Bob of Ashburn. He is the last visible face of a failed decade. Vinny....gone. Andyman, errr Karl Swanson....gone. Come on Larry, time to complete the Trinity!

Posted by: Eckertae | December 15, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Video boards were nice addition, but make very little difference in the overall gameday experience. And advertising them as punter-proof? Just says Redskins are jealous of Jerry's stadium.

Posted by: dcborn61 | December 15, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Whoa... Larry Michael is shilling for Dan Snyder? Well I never!

Posted by: StuScott_Booyahs | December 15, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Larry Micheal is a waste of space. The guy has no spine. He's Dannyboy's mouth piece. He's a disgrace.

Frank Herzog was much better.

Posted by: goskinsgo | December 15, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Of course, what we forget is that Dan Snyder is so divorced from Redskins fans that he thinks that our problem is that the video boards weren't snazzy enough. It's not the mile walk from the metro to a stadium in the middle of nowhere, or the godawful traffic. It's not being nickle-and-dimed at every turn by the franchise. It's not the dingy concourses or the fact that going to FedEx is like visiting a prison. It's not the Snyder Regime banning signs and making other petty dictatorial moves aimed at his own fanbase.

No. It's because the #&*$ing video boards weren't high-def enough.

Posted by: StuScott_Booyahs | December 15, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Larry Michael is as un-objective as Dan Synder himself. In fact there are those who think they're the same person, but I digress.

Regardless, Fedex Field sucks, not because of the stadium itself, but because Snyder has wrecked it.

So to defend yourself, you need shills like Michael.

Syder has ruined the franchise, plain and simple. Both on the field and off.

Posted by: SavedByZero | December 15, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

if that is shooting straight...he has a future in washington

Posted by: moo21 | December 15, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I take exception to Larry Michael's exception. Then again, I don't have a parking space, a media pass, buffet line, production assistants, locker room credentials, hugs for Czarniak, chats with Sonny and Sam, or a great perspective to watch the game. I'm sure his gameday experience is awesome! But I do have gloves. yeah, he's just like me.

Posted by: DCV1 | December 15, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Classic Larry toting the company line. The fan experience sucks, because the staidum is in PG county and is retro state of the art (designed in the 80s).
I'd love for Larry to be shipped off to Afghanistan so he could call Buzkashi matches and dodge taliban fire. And maybe we could once again tolerate a Redskins Broadcast.

Posted by: wynnebs | December 15, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Classic Larry toting the company line. The fan experience sucks, because the staidum is in PG county and is retro state of the art (designed in the 80s).
I'd love for Larry to be shipped off to Afghanistan so he could call Buzkashi matches and dodge taliban fire. And maybe we could once again tolerate a Redskins Broadcast.

Posted by: wynnebs | December 15, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

The Redskins and everything associated with them can go to hell. I hope nobody goes to the game on Jan. 2 against the Giants. Larry Michael is just another yes-man for Lil Danny Boy.

Posted by: djdavew2002 | December 15, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Whoa whoa wait a minute, Larry had a response to an e-mail where he didn't use the word "haters." Well color me shocked.

Posted by: Andymr | December 15, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I routinely turn down free tickets because the NFL game-day experience at FedEx is so terrible. Some of it is the NFL in general with things like the relentless TV stoppages. The rest of it is the odyssey one undertakes to get there, the price of everything and that everything has a price, the quality of the facilities and amenities and the performance on the field. That last could go a long way toward making me overlook the other things. Alas...

Posted by: false_cause | December 15, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Larry, the game day experience at Fed Ex is great...if you are Larry Micheal.

-Reserved parking spot
-Get in the stadium well before the rest of the fans so never has to deal with traffic
-Probably has a private entrance so no need to dodge drunks and fat people creating rolling roadblocks on the concourse
-Gets free food, no waiting in line or overpaying for substandard fare
-Has his own bathroom
-Gets paid to be there

I mean, I don't see what you guys are complaining about.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 15, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I for one think the new video boards solved all of the problems at Fedex. Of course, I don't go there, and never will until Danny is gone, but that was the only change during the offseason that has any positive value.

Posted by: Leeguru | December 15, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I'll bite. What's so bad about FedEx past beer prices? Most of the other seriously stupid choices -- no pedestrians, no signs, etc -- were temporary blips. I've slowly decided there's nothing redeemable about Snyder and can't wait until he sells, but that doesn't mean I dislike The Big Jack.

And look, this is from a dude who had season tickets with the OV crew behind a freakin post for three seasons. FedEx's a great, natural grass, open air stadium, and when you're on the lower level, certainly, it's got great sight lines. The fans, when the Skins are winning, are great, and a bit right of redneck when they aren't. Seriously, the game's great fun when your neighbors cooperate. That Vincent block and ST return setting up the Novak FG for a win was classic. About as loud as it could get, I think.

They could have more food vendors patrolling and the beer in the bathroom was, well, disgusting, but the latter's apparently been fixed.

So what's to dislike? The chicken at POPEYE'S? The FedEx dancing crew (now gone too, I think)? Who doesn't have cheesy stuff like that?

Posted by: WorstSeat | December 15, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

My brother and I attended the Colts-'Skins game after I won tickets and a much appreciated parking permit in a raffle drawing.

The HD screens are very nice. And there was an excellent Kosher vending station on the concourse near the entrance to our seats with surprisingly good food; however, they sold out at some point during the third quarter.

I don't think nachos w/ Cheese Whiz, and pretzels are that hard to make. So I don't really understand why our nachos were so awful, and the big pretzel we shared was dry and tasted like cardboard. I can get an awesome soft pretzel at any Auntie Anne's in a mall; somehow, no vendor at FedEx can make a good one.

The restrooms per usual were OK at the start, gross after a quarter and disgusting after halftime. If they don't assign some employees the thankless task of keeping bathrooms cleaned and um, clearing blocked toilets, things go downhill quickly.

It worked for us to come out to the stadium insanely early (maybe 3:30 for a 8 p.m. Sunday game) and leave ridiculously late (after the worst of the post-game traffic was gone), but it turned into about a 10-hour adventure, and who has that kind of time to blow?

As for the stadium, that's JKC and the D.C. government's fault for not working something out downtown. I can't really fault Snyder for the stadium; only for adding thousands of seats and exacerbating the problems (parking, restrooms being overwhelmed etc.) that were already there when he took over the team.

Posted by: blackjack65 | December 15, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

'Unfortunately, when you don't win, fans don't go happy. Thus, comments about the fan experience.' -- Larry

It's more like when you win, fans can overlook how horrible the stadium is. When you don't win, you need something that makes it worth going to the game.

The boards are nice, but don't actually improve anything. They have the ability to show better replays but they still barely show any replays and use them primarily for advertisements The parking lots are still a humongous pain and extremely dangerous (I saw one person get hit by a car earlier this year and I almost hit someone this past Sunday). Plus the commute to RalphJohn/Landover is miserable and very difficult for anyone taking public transportation (and most of us that drive too). A large majority of the seats in the stadium are still not better than the view from TV (including the partially obstructed seats under the club level and the entire upper deck). The food is still terrible and way too expensive and the lines for the food, entrance to the stadium, and the bathroom are always unnecessarily too long. The stadium is still too big and has too many extra seats for fans of opposing teams (or just random bum coyboys fans).

Everything about the experience that used to make the 6-10 hours at the stadium worth going through even with a crappy team is gone. They've destroyed or commercialized everything, from Punt Pass & Kick (where no one actually punted, passed, or kick, but rather had their names read for a very long time) to the Funky 4 (which became a 2 minute FexEx sponsored Funky 4 intro with 30 seconds of the funky 4).

I've been going to games for 21 years, since I was 4, and I wouldn't mind any of this if they would win. But considering the team on the field is still a huge disappointment and has one of the worst home winning records since moving to fedex, the horrendous conditions make it what it is today. We haven't done anything right since moving there and it's time the Washington Redskins are back in Washington, with a stadium we can be proud of.

Posted by: malarsk | December 15, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

My first time at the an NFL game was the Redskins-Texans game. Even though, the Redskins lost, I thoroughly enjoyed the game and the game day experience. I haven't been to other stadia so I can't compare but the game day experience wasn't that bad for me. I took the metro in (so no traffic). Sure there was a line to the men's room at half time but no one was selling beer there :)

Posted by: tundey | December 15, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Bust on Larry all you want. When it comes to radio coverage, it's Sam that drives me nuts. He's a total distraction talking week after week about players who wear gloves not being able to catch passes, not knowing the rules, not being able to see about 1/4th of th plays, etc.

Posted by: JHG_sec405 | December 15, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Sigh. More from Baghdad Larry. I wish that village would come and claim their idiot already.

Posted by: kingrob76 | December 16, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

As a lifelong skins fan since the days of Eddie Lebaron, I feel I have pretty good perspective especially since I was an usher in the first few years DC Stadium was open (before the Kennedy assassinations). I gave up my season tickets to "the Cooker" or as John likes to call it "the Warehouse" after my initial 10 year contract ended. This owner has been referred to as "a dark heart" and there is a lot of evidence to support that characterization. Larry Michael is a sycophant to the owner and when he says he'll be straight with you, I am reminded of the many car salesmen I have met over the years. Until this team gets a new owner, I won't be going to Six Flags, Johnny Rockets or Fed Ex field. JKC had more care about the fans in his pinky than the Danny has in his whole body. Fans for the Redskins-Unite and boycott all NFL products and sponsors until we get an owner in here that cares more about the team and product on the field than he does about marketing and the videotron.

Posted by: Riverrat66 | December 16, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

It's a shame the football team can't defend the FedEx experience.

Posted by: Scoonie97 | December 16, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

You know who enjoys the FedEx eperience? The other NFC east opponents. The Redskins have gone 20-25-1 in the building. Only 3 times have they even posted a home division winning record.

And 2 of those times we had Arizona in the division....

Posted by: Scoonie97 | December 16, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

To be fair, Synder/Michael didn't build their stadium; they inherited it. But what they've done appears to turn a tough situation into a bad one.

It was Snyder that in 2000 stopped people from parking at Landover Mall and walking across the street under the canard of public safety.

It was Snyder that decided to keep adding seats and sell restricted view seats.

It was Snyder that decided to crack down on people bringing signs to games last year.

The in-stands violence is brutal. I've been to two games and I lost count of how many fights in the stands that I saw. I can watch the game at home for free and be comfortable and not feel like I'm existing in third-world squalor (I feel really bad for fans who must feel harshly done by). At some point you almost feel like they might want to follow the example of soccer and have "visiting fan sections" or something.

It's Snyder that was selling tickets on the secondary market to fans of other teams (to wit the MNF debacle against PIT).

It's Snyder that sued his fans for trying to get out of their contract (yes- it's his right to do this but the optics are horrible).

It's Snyder that can't seem to find people to do complicated things like clean washrooms or have edible food (that $5.00 hotdog wouldn't be so bad if it were hot and fresh).

I don't doubt that Snyder wants a winning team and in his mind he's doing what he thinks will produce this (despite the results). He would do well to look at other teams that seem to have better fan experiences and try to learn what they do. Yes- winning helps, but there's numerous things he could do that would go a long way.

Posted by: jcurrin | December 16, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

In addition to the (all-true) complaints above, there is little effort made by staffers to keep the stadium family friendly. The last time I was there, there were drunk fans screaming obscenities at families with young children (10 and under) because they were wearing the other teams colors and yelling at Redskins fan because they were not cheering loud enough. It was awful. Never going back.

Posted by: RJD1 | December 16, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

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