Surrender six precious Redskins seats, for which the waiting list has been so long in the past? And for hockey, historically a less popular sport in the D.C. area? The Krogh family was rooting for the Redskins using some of those same tickets for six full years before the Capitals even existed.
These aren’t just any seats, either. They’ve got a pedigree. Family patriarch Paul H.J. Krogh, 76, a retired oral surgeon, got the original four tickets as a favor after he yanked a tooth from the mouth of former Redskins owner George Preston Marshall in Georgetown in 1968. He acquired the other two in 1971.
The elder Krogh passed on the end-zone seats to his son, Paul B. Krogh, 52. The latter recently held family talks with his wife, Stacy, and three children, which led to the fateful decision.
“The result of our kitchen-table discussions is that we’ll put our professional sports money toward the Washington Capitals instead of the Washington Redskins,” Paul said. He plans to buy part of a Caps season package from a friend.
It’s too soon to call it a trend. But hear all of the Kroghs’ reasons for making the switch, and the message to Redskins ownership is unmistakable: Don’t take us for granted. We won’t be suckers forever.
Of course, it starts with win-loss records. The Caps are currently in the playoffs for the fourth straight year. The Skins haven’t been there since 2007.
“It helps that the Caps are winning,” son Peter, 15, said. “You usually come back happy.”
It’s also the eight hours required to attend a Redskins game at Fedex Field, with much of the time sitting in traffic or cramped in a Metro train. It’s the high prices at the stadium. The inebriated, foul-mouthed fans. The erratic management and sour vibes from owner Snyder.
“They’re just not a team that’s easy to root for,” Stacy said.
To top it off, the Kroghs often can’t find takers when they try to sell or even give away the tickets to relatives or friends. Paul can no longer count on using them for business entertainment in his construction management work.
“While I can’t seem to get clients to go with me to a Redskins game, I can get them to go to a Caps game, no problem,” he said.
It didn’t help that the football season might be canceled this year because of a labor dispute, although that wasn’t the deciding factor.
At this point, I need to make two disclosures. First, the Kroghs live across the street from me. I heard about this when Paul mentioned it while I was out weeding my yard.
Second, a friend and I share season tickets to the Redskins. We’re not trading them in for hockey seats or anything else.
Still, I think the Kroghs’ move is a plus even for loyal (or masochistic) Redskins fans like myself. If enough others pull out, it might finally convince Snyder that serious changes are needed. Although Snyder has yet to prove he can consistently field a quality team, cash flow is a subject that he clearly understands.
To hear the Redskins tell it, they needn’t worry. They like to talk about the 358 consecutive home sellouts. They say season ticket sales are on track for more sellouts.
But that doesn’t mean everybody’s coming to the games. I see large numbers of empty seats at Fedex Field. Paul said the team seems awfully eager for his business, having phoned him four times so far to ask him to renew.
“We do everything we can for our season ticket holders. We’ve spent millions of dollars, and will continue to spend, on stadium improvements,” said Tony Wyllie, Redskins senior vice president for communications. “We pay attention to enhance our fan experience.”
The Capitals say they’ve sold out more than 100 games in a row, and there’s every reason to think their ticket demand is hotter than ever. The team has just created a new category of 100 standing-room-only season tickets. That means people will be paying even without getting a seat.
For the Kroghs, much of their discontent with the Redskins has little to do with the game on the field.
Stacy was particularly annoyed over the cost of parking, food and drink. “When I walk into the stadium, I’m automatically on guard that they’re trying to rip us off,” she said.
Daughter Schuyler, 18, said her “most vivid memories” of Fedex Field were “of people that were close to us who were falling-over drunk.”
She also mentioned that her high school friends showed much more interest in the Capitals than the Redskins. “When there are Caps games, my Facebook feed lights up with ‘Go, Caps,’ and ‘Rock the red,’ and I never hear anything about football games,” she said.
Given the importance of Facebook to the younger generation, Snyder might see that as the direst warning of all.
I’m taking a brief vacation. Column returns April 28.