- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2018

LANDOVER — The fans who exited FedEx Field after the Redskins’ 21-9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, left disappointed.

But perhaps the biggest sign of the fans’ displeasure with the franchise is how many didn’t buy a ticket. The Redskins’ 50-year sellout streak ended Sunday, as Washington’s official attendance was just 57,013 for the team’s home opener.

By comparison, the Redskins reported an attendance of 78,685 for last year’s opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Earlier this week, Redskins chief marketing officer Steve Ziff told a small group of reporters the team was “comfortable” with the thought of the team’s sellout streak ending.

Since the Redskins hired COO Brian Lafemina in May, Washington has changed its approach on how to market to fans — officially acknowledging the elimination of their long-touted season-ticket waiting list, while emphasizing the ability to purchase single-game tickets.

The Redskins also introduced a series of in-game and stadium enhancements designed to lure fans to FedEx Field. Those efforts were on display Sunday, with a new pregame introduction that featured pyrotechnics and fewer commercials on the jumbotron during the course of the game. The franchise added new food and beverage options, as well.

But the team’s marketing blitz did not appear to translate into fans actually purchasing tickets. The upper level was noticeably empty, and there were seats available in the lower bowl, too.

Ziff said he wants the Redskins on a level with premier franchises like the Green Bay Packers. He said win-or-lose, fans still think of Green Bay in a positive light.

“The real change in philosophy is the decision to not to sell as many seats to brokers as we have in the past,” Ziff said. “Kind of not renew those tickets. Make sure we’re selling those seats to more fundamentally to Redskins fans.

“We want people to buy on the merit of being a fan and creating a value to season-ticket members.”

Winning, though, is a major component to drawing fans to FedEx Field. Against the Colts, the Redskins gave fans little reason to think that will change any time soon.

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