Despite the labor dispute threatening the 2011 season, most NFL teams, including the Redskins, have not changed policies requiring season ticket holders to pay in full this spring.
Operating as if there will be a full NFL season in 2011, the Redskins are requiring that season ticket packages be paid in full by May 1, according to invoices sent out to season ticket holders. Customers had the option of a one-time renewal payment by February 18, for general admission seating, or they could choose the payment plan that featured three installments, due March 1, April 1 and May 1.
“It’s business as usual,” Redskins Senior Vice President Tony Wyllie said. “But we have promised that if any games are missed, they have their choice of full refund or credit to next year.”
The Redskins are among the large majority of NFL teams that haven’t altered season ticket payment plans. But the New York Giants, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills are giving fans more time to pay because of the uncertainty of the 2011 season.
The Giants are not requiring payment for tickets until the labor dispute is resolved. The Jets will let ticket holders defer 50 percent of the payment until a training camp date is announced. The Panthers will let fans pay 10 percent of the renewal price and defer paying 90 percent until a new collective bargaining agreement is signed, and the Bills have required 50 percent now, and the rest when the league announces games will be played.
Unlike the Redskins and some other teams, however, the Giants, Jets, Bills and Panthers all require that customers purchase personal seat licenses (PSLs) that allow them to buy season tickets for a specific seat in their stadiums. Those PSL fees had to be paid earlier this year, so the four teams have required their fans to pay something.
Wyllie said that the Redskins “received a good response” from renewing ticket holders. He said he believed that was partially because those who renewed by Feb. 18 received their choice of tickets to a Kenny Chesney concert, the Manchester United-FC Barcelona game, the Notre Dame-Maryland game or the Army-Navy game that will all be held at FedEx Field later this year.
But that doesn’t mean those ticket holders paid without a degree of resentment.
“I don’t like it, but I didn’t feel like I had a choice,” said Columbia resident Mike Stephenson, who paid just under $9,000 for seven tickets and parking passes. “These tickets have been in my family for a long time, so I didn’t want to lose them. So I paid in full. The Redskins have all their money, but I have no guarantee the games will be played.
“I don’t get it,” he added. “Nobody would pay for movie tickets in March for a movie that might come out in September.”
Stephenson said he usually collects money from friends for some of his tickets and then sends in the whole payment. But this year, some wanted to wait until the lockout was resolved to fork over their portion, and another backed out completely. Stephenson said he had to find a replacement.
Stephenson said he knows another ticket holder who, upset over the lockout, chose not to renew by the deadline. The Redskins have sent that man three notices that his tickets are still available for purchase, however.
Stephenson said he paid his money with the hope that the labor dispute would be resolved before the season begins, and if not, he has faith that the Redskins will make good on their promise to issue refunds for games missed. Stephenson still is bothered, though.
“Thing is, they have this money, and I’m sure Dan Snyder is investing the season ticket money, so he’s earning interest,” he said. “And even if he has to refund us for games missed, he’s still making money off us. So the only ones not making money off this lockout will be the fans and the players.”
Fellow Redskins ticket holder Shawn Wiser says demanding payment without a new CBA is just bad business.
“I own a company. If every one of my employees quit and I still received/demanded full payment on a contract would that be criminal, or just wrong?” asked Wiser, who noted unhappily that the first renewal installment was due the week before NFL owners decided to impose the lockout. “Or is hoping to have employees in time and if not just giving my customer their money back without interest okay?
“I’ve been in sales and management in the private sector my entire adult life. You never treat your employees, or even more importantly your customers, this way.”