The Washington Redskins are offering longtime club-seat ticket holders a one-time discount on the cost of renewing their club seat contracts that the team believes is generous, although some fans aren't convinced.
As first reported in Saturday's Washington Times, fans who leased 10-year club seats when FedEx Field opened in 1997 can renew those clubs seats now, four years before the contract expires, and pay nearly 40 percent more than they pay currently. Or, those fans can wait for their contracts to expire in 2007 and pay more than double what they currently pay.
Either way, the price of the highest-price club seats will increase significantly over the $1,995 price fans, in 1997, agreed to pay for each seat for the next 10 years.
By signing up now, a Redskins ticket holder will pay $2,750 per seat next season, with the contract rising 3 percent each year to $3,588 in 2012, according to the Redskins. If club-seat ticket holders wait until 2007 to renew, the ticket price will be $4,254, increasing to $5,429 in 2012.
The offer is good through Jan. 31.
Part of the reason the price jumps would be so dramatic for fans who signed the 10-year contracts in 1997 is because those fans were able to lock in the price for the next decade, just like a fixed mortgage, without fear of an increase. New fans purchasing those seats for the first time are paying up to $3,400 because the price of club seats has gone up since 1997. Escalator clauses that call for annual price increases for club seat tickets are now common practice among NFL teams, including the Redskins, but were not part of the Redskins' 1997 club seat contracts.
Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson called the Redskins' offer "a savings plan. We gave people the opportunity to save money. It helps them avoid the sticker shock they might experience if they wait until 2006."
Potomac businessman Joe Chartoff, who owns two club seats on the 40-yard line, said he is going to stick with his original club-seat contract he signed in 1997. Chartoff currently pays around $4,500 annually for two seats, including parking and ticket tax.
"I don't have any intentions of taking them up on this offer," said Chartoff, who has been a Redskins season ticket holder for 32 years. "I am going to leave my contract in place for the remaining four years. As far as renewing at those prices, I would say it's very questionable this time due to the cost. It seems they are pricing themselves out of the individual market and probably have to be looking for corporate takers."
Seats for all pro sports events have increased over the past several years. The New England Patriots command between $3,750 and $6,000 for their club seats. The Philadelphia Eagles will charge between $1,700 and $3,500, plus an initial "seat license" fee of $2,900 when they move into their new stadium next year. Denver Broncos club seats cost between $2,300 and $3,000, and the Miami Dolphins charge $1,200 to $3,700.
Unlike many other professional sports stadiums that are built with substantial taxpayer help, FedEx Field was privately built, and owner Daniel Snyder has a substantial debt on the facility. To help pay that debt, Snyder has dramatically increased the team's revenues since he bought the NFL franchise from the estate of the late Jack Kent Cooke in 1999, making it one of the biggest cash-generators of any major professional sports franchise.
The Redskins have the second-highest average general admission ticket price in the NFL at $68.06 per ticket. The 86,200-seat facility has added more seats under Snyder, including field-level "dream seats." Snyder has also increased club seat prices, added more corporate tents, raised parking prices and, briefly, charged fans to attend preseason practice.