Redskins Announce a Record Crowd
I hate to go negative on the annual fan day, but there's one aspect of the day that seems curious -- that's the Redskins' announced attendance.
As I'm sure you recall, an announced record number of fans descended upon Redskins Park for last season's scrimmage, jamming roads for miles in every direction. The team announced an attendance figure of 28,000, besting the crowd in 2004 when Joe Gibbs came out of retirement, and lines began forming early in the morning.
Well, it seemed apparent to the scribes, TV folk and bloggers that this season's crowd was much smaller. You could see pockets of open space all over the place, unlike last season.
So imagine the surprise when the Skins' official news release listed the attendance as 29,000, "edging the previous training camp attendance record of 28,000 fans in 2008." I asked Zack Bolno to explain this, and he informed us that the Skins and the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office improved their handling of traffic entering the practice complex.
Cars were lined up all along Loudoun County Parkway last year, with backups topping more than 90 minutes just to move a few miles. This year, the Skins opened the gates at 9 a.m. (they were scheduled to open at 11:30), they more than doubled their parking area and the sheriff's department provided triple the number of officers to direct traffic than worked in 2008, Bolno said.
His point was that the relatively smooth traffic flow created a false sense of a smaller crowd than last year. My point is that I don't buy what the Skins are trying to sell on this one.
There is no way to prove or disprove the figures from this year or last year and there are no official figures, but another record crowd seems just a little too convenient. On an intrasquad scrimmage for which no admission is charged, it probably doesn't really matter. But it does go to show that the marketing machine around here never stops humming.
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