Last week, the Redskins announced an increase in season ticket prices at FedEx Field, noting that “General Admission ticket prices have increased for the first time in seven seasons, with most seats going up no more than 10 percent.”
This week, a team spokesman acknowledged that some “prime seat locations” were being hit with a 40-percent increase, but said that was the largest increase in the stadium.
That led to lots of e-mails to me from folks in the upper decks, who said their percentage increase was much larger than that. So here’s an explanation.
When the Redskins removed thousands of 400-level seats to create party decks in 2011, they relocated the plan holders whose seats had been eliminated. Those plan-holders were moving from the cheapest end zone seats in the stadium — priced at $44 or $48.40 — to more expensive seats in the corners or on the sidelines. Of course, they weren’t moving by choice — their seats no longer existed, having been removed despite a season ticket waiting list the team says contains hundreds of thousands of names.
Anyhow, the team promised these plan holders that their prices would not be increased until the team raised prices on other seats. So for the past two seasons, these plan holders were paying less than other plan holders located in their same rows and sections.
“The past couple of years, they were getting a discount,” spokesman Tony Wyllie explained. “When they were moved [in 2011], they got upgraded and didn’t experience a price increase.”
Now, however, prices are being raised, so the grandfathered price freeze no longer applies. And thus, many plan holders are seeing their per-game per-ticket price increase from $48.40 to $75.90, an increase of 57 percent. In all, Wyllie said, 806 accounts are affected by the elimination of those grandfathered prices.
“The press release stated that most seats have increased no more than 10 percent,” a ticket office employee wrote to one of my readers. “In previous seasons the Ticket Office has honored the $48.40 ticket price since you were forced to move. This price would be honored until ticket prices increased. You are now paying the same price as all other season ticket holders in your section.”
It all makes sense. On the other hand, these people were not asked if they wanted to move, and could not have opted to remain in cheap seats. If the team is bragging that prices haven’t increased in seven years — meaning these people never saw price increases during their forced move — then it sort of has to acknowledge that hundreds of fans are now facing a 57-percent price increase from one season to the next. And some aren’t thrilled about it.
“I find this absolutely ridiculous!” Cathy Pilkinton of South Riding wrote to me. “I was born and raised in NoVa and have been a Skins fan as long as I can remember. I have had season tickets for the past two seasons, mostly because so many people who were long time season ticket owners dumped their tickets after SO MANY LOSING SEASONS!! I really love going to the games. Especially last season, when we actually got to see a few home wins! And I cannot believe that after one (count it, ONE!) good season, Dan Snyder has allowed this much of a rate hike. It’s honestly unbelieveable. This is the reward for the loyal fans who have stuck with the Skins through so many bad seasons??…
“I’m now not sure what I will do this year. My husband and I may opt to not renew our season tickets. If we do renew, we will be selling at least half our tickets to recoup some of the cost….I’m not sure what I can do about it besides dump my tickets and send a message to Dan. I WAS really excited about next season. Too bad this kinda took the wind out of my sails.”
Another fan wrote: “The comments and announcements about 10% and even 40% ticket increases don’t touch my upper level increase – in the end zone – of 57%. The removal of those seats was not my idea. This sounds like a typical Snyder maneuver to squeeze every penny he can out of his best supporters who stayed with the team this past extremely lean years. One 10-6 season does not a dynasty make. How many of my friends around my seats are seriously thinking of not renewing? I would guess as many as 15 seats in my immediate area could be turned back in….We are the fans with budgets, not the enclosed, club level or seats in the lower areas that go for over $100, as quoted in your article.”
“Hard to believe,” wrote another 400-level fan. “We drive up from outside Charlottesville 10 times a year for the games….Those tickets have been in the family since Griffith Stadium.”
Even some lower-level fans, whose prices are going up 40 percent, seemed unhappy.
“For what it’s worth, I think this has finally tipped the scales for me,” one wrote. “After decades of great memories, I will not be re-newing our tickets. Thanks to Dan Snyder for ruining what once was a great family experience!”
“Just when the Skins were making some inroads with their fans, they go and screw with the fans that have been with them the longest, through not only the good times, but more of late, the bad,” wrote another. “For me, I’m about 50/50 on dumping mine, particularly as it still includes the two backup filled pre-season exhibition shows.”
“I am pretty appalled by this increase,” wrote yet another. “Just when we think that maybe the team has figured out how to treat folks, they turn around and pull this. Pretty unreal.”
Below, see a FedEx Field seating chart with examples of season ticket price increases for individual plan holders in 2013 (mouse over the image for details).