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WP: Fans Irked Over FedEx Seats


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Fans Irked Over FedEx Seats

By Thomas Heath and Jason LaCanfora

Washington Post Staff Writers


Several Washington Redskins fans have complained that the views from newly installed, lower-bowl seats at FedEx Field are much worse then they were led to believe by the team's sales staff earlier this year and said they have asked that the team move them to better locations with unobstructed views.

Other fans have complained that they were urged by Redskins sales staff to buy the tickets sight unseen because the seats had not yet been installed, which appears to contradict statements from Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson two weeks ago that fans were allowed to visit the stadium and sit in the seats prior to purchase.

"I asked if I could see where [the tickets] would be," said Rich Langguth, a retired supervisor with the National Science Foundation who lives in Burke. Langguth had upper-level season tickets since the Redskins moved to FedEx Field in 1997. "They said there was no way to view [the new seats] and they aren't going to hold the seats. I could take them or pass."

Langguth's two seats, priced at $69 each, are among 4,000 new general admission seats that were created by adding 10 rows to the back of the lower bowl section that rings the north half of the stadium. They are tucked under the premium club seats. Giant pillars block the view from a number of the new sets, which are built on metal risers. Dozens of flat screen televisions and speakers have been installed to compensate for the obstructed views.

Swanson said this week that the Redskins have heard complaints from unhappy fans, and he suggested that they call the ticket office to see what can be done. He said there was no intent to mislead anyone and that every ticket buyer should have been told they could see a mockup of the new seats.

"We had a script and whenever anyone called, our people at the stadium ticket office made that offer but also stressed that this is something we need to do in the next day or two because we can't hold the seats for weeks and weeks and weeks," Swanson said. "Hundreds of people came out and saw the seats."

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder installed the new seats to take advantage of the increased ticket demand that accompanied the return of Coach Joe Gibbs, who was coaxed out of retirement after having steered the Redskins to three Super Bowl victories during the 1980s and '90s. Gibbs was hired in January for more than $5 million a year.

FedEx Field, which was built with private funds by the late Jack Kent Cooke, is the NFL's biggest stadium, with a capacity of 91,665. Through stadium expansion, marketing and merchandise sales, the Redskins have become one of the highest-grossing teams in all of professional sports.

Other fans who asked that their names not appear in the newspaper said they were disappointed with the new seats and were working with the Redskins to find better seats. The new seats have also become a hot topic on Internet message boards, with some fans criticizing Snyder for selling obstructed-view seats in the first place.

One fan, who asked that his name not be used, said his sightlines were not obstructed but complained that he couldn't see the scoreboard and that the overhang caused the ball to disappear from view during passes, kickoffs and punts. Fans also complained that the television monitors installed by the Redskins did not contain the score, down and distance for a first down.

Swanson said the wiring was not completed in time for the first preseason game on Aug. 14 but that the statistics would accompany the live game action on those monitors from now on.

Langguth, 59, said he gave up his upper-deck seats in section 452 priced at $59 per seat in order to move to the lower bowl, where his seats cost him $69 apiece. He said he was told the lower bowl seats had a "limited view," but was told that the only thing that would be obscured was part of the end zone. He said he was also told he would not see the scoreboard, high passes or punts.

When he arrived at the Redskins-Carolina Panthers game two weeks ago, he sat down in his new seats and found a pillar blocking the entire midfield between the 35-yard lines.

"I said something's got to be wrong here," Langguth said. "I'm supposed to have a clear view of the field, and all I can see is a column."

Langguth said he has talked to the sales staff and they told him that refunds were not allowed.

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The story is pretty much a summary of our threads, but it doesn't fully do them justice. It really needs a picture with it so people fully understand what we've been talking about here.

Swanson, as predicted, basically says "we disclosed all of this". Print the picture of the seat directly behind the pillar and see how much that changes what people will believe about that. The story makes it sound more like people are whining than that there is a real problem.

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I dont think they shoulda built those seats in the first place and then forced people to buy them. I think they should do something major to compensate for those seats and remove them next year, maybe like free club level seats next season or something.

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Have you tried contacting News 4 or something like that? I bet they would jump all over it! My friend has tickets in that section also and he said they were awful. At the Panthers game he came up and sat with us in the upper section where he could atleast see the game.

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Originally posted by jwebst1

Did you guys see the Redskins response to this article on www.redskins.com ????

They really go after the Post.

I thought they liked the Post...


Clarification: 'Washington Post' Inaccuracies

August 26, 2004

Today's Washington Post story, based on issues from a "handful" of people and identifying only one fan from among the more than 4,000 who bought new seats, accepted the premise that ticketholders had been somehow misled. That despite reporter Jason La Canfora's possession of the three computer-generated views of the seating areas that were provided in advance to all who sought to purchase the seats, team spokesman Karl Swanson said.

The Post also failed to point out that the co-author of the story, Thomas Heath, visited the stadium on August 10. His resulting August 11 story correctly quoted Swanson that "we made full disclosure and told people to come look at the seats and see if you want them." That is why the seat assignment process took more than two months.

Over the eight-week period, hundreds and hundreds of account holders visited the seats. Those who could not come received computerized drawings of the seating areas.

During a conversation with La Canfora prior to publication of the current story, the Redskins noted that any dissatisfied fan should contact the ticket office to discuss their options. It was noted that the Redskins have several different ways the team might address fan desires. Among those options is refunding the fan's payment for the seats, an option that to date no fan has chosen to accept.

Surprisingly, The Washington Post newspaper is in fact the single-largest general admission ticket holder at FedExField, with more than 200 prime lower bowl seats under one discreet account.

General admission seats are intended for the individual fan. Each account is limited to six seats, and there are more than 100,000 households on the wait list hoping to purchase general admission seats.

"Since general admission is designed to benefit the individual fan, not major corporations, having secretly garnered more than 200 of the best lower bowl seats, isn't it time for the Washington Post to recognize the needs of the individual fan?" said Mitch Gershman, senior vice president in charge of the team's ticket office.

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Originally posted by Dexter's Better

That appears to be a threat to me...

For those people in those seat its to put up or shut up -- take the refund -- if they offered it ask for the money back.

If they do that though, I'm sure they will lose purchasing rights.

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