Did anyone else catch this?
In a June 13 focus group study of Washington Redskins fans, a rather intriguing question was asked. Frank Luntz of Luntz Global, a consulting group which markets itself as “experts communication strategists,” asked Redskins fans if they wanted to see a game played at RFK Stadium.
And “the place erupted,” according to Richard Dassing, a 65 year-old lifelong Redskins fan from Gettysburg, PA.
I would think so.
After all, I have no doubt that Redskins fans would love to see a game played at venerable RFK, the team’s home from 1961-1996. An indelible part of the team’s glory years from the 1980s and early 1990s, the little stadium at the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers holds a special place in the hearts of the Burgundy and Gold faithful.
And who can ever forget the bouncing bleachers as the team’s Marching Band played “Hail to the Redskins,” or the stadium “moving” during the 1982 NFC Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys? A Redskins game played at RFK would be the hottest sports ticket in D.C. since well, I can’t remember.
The part I don’t get is why the issue was raised by a focus group hired by the Redskins to Redskins fans.
Remember, although RFK is still home to MLS’ D.C. United, its capacity has been reduced to about 46,000 in football/soccer configuration, compared to 85,000 for FedExField. RFK also has very few luxury boxes, the real revenue generators in modern professional sports stadiums. Likewise, tailgating space, something FedEXField has turned into something of a cottage industry, would be limited as well.
Of course, these are amongst the reasons the team left in the first place. Simply put, I can’t even begin to calculate the financial loss the team would have playing at RFK relative to a game at FedExField.
Plus, RFK is completely lacking in many of the modern amenities of newer stadiums, such as high-definition scoreboard. While I can’t say for certain, I can’t imagine the WiFi signal is exactly strong. Also, concession and bathroom lines could potentially be a disaster.
Last, team owner Daniel Snyder has, like Jack Kent Cooke before him realized that working with the incompetent Washington, D.C. government can be an exercise in futility.
In short, I see zero motivation on the Redskins’ end for a game at RFK. Sure, I can see a grassroots fan movement for a game there, but these are the Redskins, known for their impersonal corporate savvy and incredible ability to maximize the bottom line — and there is no way the bottom line would justify a game at RFK.
Still, I can’t get over, nor can I emphasize this simple fact enough: the team, or at least the consulting firm it hired, raised this issue. The team could have easily labeled it as an “off-limits” subject, or at the very least advised that a question be tactfully diffused.
But the Redskins did no such thing. While it is hard to say what will come of it, the possibility was raised.
And it would be silly to not explore why.