It turns out that Washington’s 200,000-person season-ticket waiting list
was a lie was only as firm as the team’s success. There hasn’t been a lot of that in recent years, and there has been a corresponding dip in attendance. But it’s a hell of a lot easier to fill a stadium when you take out 5,000 or so seats.
At an open house at FedEx Field for fans interested in buying season tickets on Saturday, thousands of seats had already been removed from the top eight rows of many sections in the stadium’s upper deck. They had been replaced by tall metal poles jutting out from the concrete floor of the grandstand.
The Skins claim they’ve sold out every home game for the past 47 seasons, but that must involve some funny math, considering they averaged 77,964 fans a game last season in a stadium with a listed capacity of 85,000. Can’t draw more fans? Offer fewer seats.
It’s the third time in five years the Skins have torn out seats, but it is definitively not just a Washington problem. Official attendance figures show the league bouncing back slightly in recent years, but as we’ve learned, there are many ways to fudge the official figures. The in-stadium NFL experience is remarkably unappealing, especially when up against the comfort and convenience of just watching the games at home. There needs to be a damned good reason to go to a football game, and sitting in the top rows on a windy December afternoon to watch Washington lose their 10th game no longer cuts it.