When seats started disappearing from the upper deck at FedEx Field during the spring, many interested parties wondered what the heck was going on at the NFL’s second-largest stadium.
And when the Redskins announced last month they are constructing two party decks, the natural question was why the team would pay to decrease the supply of stadium seating if demand actually is fortified by a six-figure season-ticket waiting list.
You’ll recall the Redskins initially explained that lockout uncertainty prompted them not to try to sell the 10,000 or so seats being removed. Well, that’s not what FedEx Field vice president of operations Lon Rosenberg told ESPN980-AM on Wednesday.
Here’s Rosenberg’s exchange with radio show host Andy Pollin, as transcribed by the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg:
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.”
And if that wasn’t shocking enough, Rosenberg then cast doubt on the entire party deck project during an exchange with host Steve Czaban:
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.”
After learning of what Rosenberg said on ESPN980, the station owned by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, The Post on Friday morning ran a story about Rosenberg’s revelations and how he contradicted some of the information the club released last month about the party deck project.
That sent some higher-ups at Redskins Park into damage control mode on Friday. General manager Bruce Allen spoke to Larry Michael, the team’s senior vice president/executive producer-media, and was interviewed on ESPN980 in the afternoon.
Allen’s interview with Michael was documented in an article on the team’s official website. The piece includes this paragraph written by the author:
And how will this impact those on the season ticket waiting list? Prior to this offseason’s labor issues, the Redskins offered seats to fans on the wait list; when the lockout took effect, the team elected to stop those offers and proceed with the renovations. Once the offseason uncertainty is resolved, the Redskins will again begin offering any remaining available seats to fans on the wait list.
Allen maintained that that party decks are part of the Redskins’ “long-term plan” for FedEx Field, and the team later clarified that the decks still are scheduled for completion in 2012. One source said many at Redskins Park were genuinely baffled by Rosenberg’s validation of the notion that the party decks aren’t a sure thing.
And to top off the day, Redskins chief marketing officer Mitch Gershman wrote a letter to fans that was published on the team’s website. He cited the need to “clear up some recent confusion in the media.” Seriously. And Gershman goes out of his way to mention that the Redskins “have one of the largest season ticket Wait Lists in the NFL.”
I’ll quit here and let you decide what to believe.