When news first broke of seat removal at FedEx Field, the word out of Ashburn was this was all a plan to improve the fan experience via new party decks.
“It’s keeping up with the Joneses,” one source told Mike Jones. “The modifications, and the party decks, are keeping with a trend of what Jerry Jones did in Dallas, and what Tampa Bay has. [The decks] are affordable, fun areas where people like to hang out before, during and after games.”
“FedEx Field is getting another major upgrade,” the team reported.
Well, not so fast? Wednesday, FedEx Field VP of Operations Lon Rosenberg went on ESPN 980’s Sports Reporters to discuss the team’s new solar powered projects. After a bit of chatter about that, Andy Pollin offered a changeup, and then things got real. Mike Jones and I ended up writing a newspaper story about all of this, but I still think the transcript of Rosenberg on the radio is worth your time:
Andy Pollin: “As far as the seats that are being ripped out to create the party decks, what is thinking behind that and why is it gonna take a year to install these party decks?”
Lon Rosenberg: “Well, currently we’ve removed the seats on both end zones, and that project is pretty much completed so we’ll be ready for the [Manchester United] soccer game. The idea behind that was to give us a little more room; it’ll reduce our parking, it’ll reduce our lines at the bathrooms, it’ll reduce the lines at the concession stands by reducing the total number of people here at FedEx Field.”
Steve Czaban: “Hold on a second, so that was an issue....So the overbuilding of the stadium, the increase in capacity…along the way, you kind of overstuffed the turkey there, is what you’re admitting.”
Rosenberg: “That’s not what I was saying. I’m saying what we removed from the stadium is to give people a little more room, that’s correct.”
Pollin: “Now here’s the question, because the team has said that the waiting list is 200,000 people. Two hundred thousand people waiting for seats, [10,000] of which are being ripped out, how does that make sense for the people on the waiting list?”
Rosenberg: “The people on the waiting list are being offered to buy seats. And we have the seats available for them. These are seats that they were not wanting to buy, and they were asking to be kept on the waiting list ‘til better seats opened up.”
Pollin: “So these seats have been offered to some of the 200,000 [people] on the waiting list and [they] said no we don’t want them, so you’re just taking them out, correct?”
Rosenberg: “That’s correct.”
Pollin: “And so did you cycle through all 200,000, and not 5,000 of the 200,000 [wanted] them, is that correct?”
Rosenberg: “I’m not sure on how that ticket process went.”
Czaban: “Lon, what will be the capacity of the party decks, roughly speaking.”
Rosenberg: “We are not putting in party decks at this time. We’ve just removed the seats, removed the cement underneath them and have opened up the ends of the upper deck.”
Czaban: “So there’s not gonna be party decks?”
Rosenberg: “We have talked about what the future of FedEx Field will bring, and that is something that’s being discussed.”
Czaban: “So that’s not a done deal yet?”
Rosenberg: “No, that’s not.”
Czaban: “Oooh. When do you think you’ll make a decision on that?
Rosenberg: “I’m not sure when that decision will be made. There’s several ideas that we’re talking about and we’ll have further information on that at a later time.”