Times are tough. I have to let the Washington Redskins season tickets go.
Long time season ticket holders are anguished when it comes to this moment. My tickets have been a constant for me and my family from the Great Society through the Reagan Revolution up to the Age of Obama.
How do ticket brokers work?
StubHub, official ticket broker of the Washington Redskins, offers the tickets at the seller's price, which is typically high. The seller has to recover StubHub's 15 percent commission or eat that cost. As game day approaches, prices tend to fall.
StubHub's Web Site offers a search capability by seating section for the Redskins stadium, FedEx Field, with the number of tickets available in that section. That's a cool decision making feature you want to see on any online ticket broker site.
Surprisingly, StubHub prefers not to broker parking passes.
The agent cited company policy, but I gathered there were too many cases of the seller not shipping the parking pass with the tickets. I understand the need for the policy, but it's inconvenient for buyer and seller.
A local ticket broker offers face value for seven of the eight regular season games. I can select from the weaker opponents on the Washington Redskins schedule. The broker suggested the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs for the odd game out.
It's a quandry. Sell the tickets up-front at full face value for most of the games, or take a chance with StubHub and risk not closing a deal until September and the start of the regular season?
I suspect ticket prices are highest before the season begins, before anyone knows how the Redskins will perform.
A bad season by the Redskins risks a loss on brokering the tickets for late season games. A great season by the Redskins could lead to a premium over face value for last season games.
The Redskins have hovered around .500 since Joe Gibbs' return and departure. It's hard to read how to price the tickets.
Ticket demand by fans of the opponent drives prices, too. Sellers asked for premium prices ($125.00 each) for tickets for last season's Redskins vs Eagles game at FedEx Field, Sunday December 21, 2008, on the Thursday before the game.
That's the downside of FedEx Field. Jack Kent Cooke built a stadium large enough to accommodate all comers. There are always enough tickets to accommodate them, be they Eagles, Cowboys or Giants fans. And there are always tickets available on a per game basis for the Redskin fan not on the season ticket list.
Lower bowl seating is the clear preference, but you will pay for the privilege. My end zone seats provided unobstructed views of the field such that I did not need field glasses to see the action.
I only used the binoculars to focus on the Washington Redskins cheerleaders, the First Ladies of Football.
The upper deck works for those who want to attend the game. It's not a good experience. My upper deck seats lacked intimacy with the team. One might well watch the game from a skyscraper. It was hard to hear the Redskin Band play Hail To The Redskins fight song.
The Joe Gibbs Plaza Level, Section 300 Series, separates the upper from the lower deck. Plaza level patrons enjoy the sight lines and game experience comparable to the upper deck of old RFK Stadium.
Corporate and premium seats in the Plaza Level that drives the economic value of every franchise. FedEx Field was one of the first NFL stadiums to offer up-to-date corporate suites with indoor lounges, cigar bar and slightly upgraded food court. It's an irritant upper deck customers have to put up with.
Technology threatens to undercut live season tickets. Washington Redskins tickets for the lower bowl are $99.00 per seat per game. Stadium parking is $35.00 per game. Two or three seats plus the parking pass for the season, including tickets for the largely unwanted, hard to unload preseason game, costs about the same as a 40 inch big screen TV and new furniture for a home theater room.
That presents interesting options. Build your own football suite at home and cherry pick the games you want to see live at FedEx Field, or write check to Mr. Snyder for season tickets that are losing their luster?
Even without the bad economy, new technology and brokered ticket options make season tickets a tough sell for the team and ticket holder.
SEP 2 2009 UPDATE: See the Washington Post story Redskins Fans Waited While Brokers Got Tickets, an expose of Washington Redskins season ticket sales practices that led the team to vendor some of its tickets to brokers instead of fans on the waiting list. ASC Tickets, the broker alluded to in my story, and StubHub are mentioned.