- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2018

ASHBURN — The Washington Redskins‘ 50-year sellout streak could come to an end Sunday when the franchise has its home opener against the Indianapolis Colts at FedEx Field.

But if that’s the case, Redskins chief marketing officer Steve Ziff said Wednesday, then so be it. In an attempt to win back fans, Ziff said the Redskins are trying to sell toward more to authentic fans and less to ticket brokers.

“While it looks like the sellout streak is in jeopardy — that’s the message out there — for us, we’re more comfortable with this because we’re comfortable with how we do business on a long-haul basis,” Ziff said, later adding this new approach was the “right way to do business in the NFL.”

The Redskins have made a series of changes on the business side since hiring COO Brian Lafemina in May. The team hired Ziff from the Jacksonville Jaguars, while Todd Kline (Miami Dolphins) and Jake Bye (Los Angeles Rams) were brought in to be the Redskins‘ chief operating officer and senior vice president of consumer sales and marketing, respectively.

Lafemina told reporters in June that the Redskins wanted to “grab back” home-field advantage and said there was no longer a waiting list for season tickets.

Though to have home-field advantage, the Redskins realized they had to revamp the game day experience. This year, Washington will have new food and beverage options, “enhanced” pregame intros featuring smoke and pyrotechnic displays and a smoother in-game experience, such as cutting down 30-second in-stadium commercial breaks.

Ryan Halkett, who works on the in-game presentation for the Redskins, said he knew things needed to change based on a visit to FedEx Field last season.

“When I walked into the parking lot last year at FedEx Field, I was just taken by how passionate the Redskins fans are,” Halkett said. “When I got into the building that day, I didn’t feel the same passion from the game day experience.”

As of Thursday, there were still plenty of tickets available on Ticketmaster and different secondary sites. On Wednesday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported there were still 3,000 tickets available ahead of Sunday’s opener.

Ziff acknowledged the perception surrounding the Redskins was that they were a franchise solely focused on “How do we make money?” But, he insisted, making money is “way down the list.”

Ziff said the Redskins are focused on how they treat their fans.

“I can’t put a timeline on it,” Ziff said. “We’re going to do things right for as long as it takes. … Hopefully, over time, win or lose, fans will buy into that. When you watch teams like the [Green Bay] Packers play, they don’t win every game. But their fans trust that organization is about them, is of them and there’s a buy-in there — that even if they boo on the football field, they still go home at night and love the Green Bay Packers.

“We want to be thought of in that same variety,” he said.


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