Berl Bernhard, the owner of the Washington Federals, said yesterday the new United States Football League team already had exceeded early goals by selling almost 8,000 season tickets, in part because of fan reaction to the ongoing National Football League strike.
"We had set a target of 5,000 season tickets by the end of November, and that had been revised from the end of December," Bernhard said. "All we had targeted for the entire first year was 15,000 and I think we'll go past that now. We also are very close to selling out the mezzanine (at RFK Stadium). There aren't many tickets left there."
Bernhard said it was "difficult to say how much of this interest is the result of the strike, but there is no doubt in my mind that the sales have benefited from the strike.
"It's just served as a boost at the right time for us. People still are interested in football, and we are an available outlet. Of course, we have to be concerned whether people will be so put off by the strike that they will ignore our league, too. We don't think that will happen, but you never know. It just hasn't happened so far."
The Federals will begin their first season in March. They've just started a ticket promotion campaign, which focuses in part on the current lack of pro football in Washington.
"Some people have come in and doubled or tripled their original requests," Bernhard said. "I guess part of this might be due to the fact they don't want to be left out, the same way they now are left out of Redskin season tickets."