- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Washington Redskins have joined nine other NFL teams to form the Gridiron Stadium Network, a consortium designed to book more events for their often unused stadiums.

Led by Tom Rooney, nephew of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney, the network will buttress the teams’ sporadic attempts to book concerts, festivals, trade shows and other non-football events to their stadiums and parking lots.

“This expands what we could do for ourselves,” Redskins vice president Karl Swanson said. “We’re not set up to go out and systematically market our own stadium [for non-football use]. Rather than 10 individual stadium operators going to a promoter, it makes a lot more sense to arrive as one entity and perhaps help link a series of events together.”

Joining the Redskins and FedEx Field in the network are Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.; Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati; Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver; Ford Field in Detroit; Reliant Stadium in Houston; Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.; Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.; Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia; and Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The teams collectively will fund a staff and office in Los Angeles for the booking effort.

FedEx Field, which opened in 1997, has played host to several prominent non-football events, most notably concerts by the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Metallica. But in all those instances, the bands’ promoters came to the Redskins seeking out the Washington area’s largest entertainment venue rather than the Redskins making a strong, unsolicited sales pitch.

The timing also appears good for the Redskins to try to book more non-football events. With the Washington Nationals occupying RFK Stadium for 81 regular-season games for each of the next three years, the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission may need to forfeit some concert and event business it traditionally has held.

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