The Washington Football Team has kickstarted several initiatives in recent weeks to connect with fans and improve their experience at FedEx Field.
On Nov. 12, the franchise informed season ticket holders that long-term contracts for premium seats at the stadium would be tossed out, replaced with market-rate plans that will lower the prices of 11,000 seats for the 2022 season. Twelve club-level sections will undergo renovations and any such season ticket packages will come standard with free parking and opportunities for social events.
Washington team president Jason Wright joined 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies on Friday morning and discussed the franchise’s push to engage with its fanbase in ways such as the Wale concert that will be held at halftime of Washington’s Monday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 29.
“Wale represents so much that’s right about the area,” Wright said. “Someone who has measurably invested in the community, represents and understands the DMV that’s from here and, in particular with the Conspired Change initiative, has music that’s very much in line with those themes of empowerment of the marginalized. But in general we need to do dope stuff that people are excited about…It doesn’t have to be all that deep stuff, although it is intentionally [next] Monday night. We need to do that and we need to think about how to just bring more value to the experience overall.”
These initiatives come amidst a season in which Washington’s reported attendance totals rank last in the NFL. Both their average number of home fans per game (51,291) and percentage of stadium filled (62.6%) are 32nd in the league, compared to the 31st-ranked Detroit Lions at 52,046 and 80.7%, respectively.
Wright told the Junkies that the attendance numbers are in line with recent seasons.
“There have been improvements [at FedEx Field],” Wright said. “Parking and traffic has measurably improved this year. I’ll beat you to the punch of like, ‘Oh, it’s because attendance is down.’ Attendance is not actually down. Attendance is not actually down, we just reported it more accurately than we used to. So those improvements are actually happening and so if we’re going to do more as we have an offseason to really assess how things have gone this year to invest more substantively.”
The field itself has undergone a makeover as well. Field conditions at FedEx Field drew criticism in years past, with poorly managed wet grass posing an injury risk to player. It’s something Wright, a former NFL player, identified as a top priority when he joined the franchise in August 2020.
“We had to make investments in that field once I got here,” Wright said. “When I first got here, and especially putting on my former player hat and trying to be a great partner to Coach [Ron Rivera], the business side really supporting what Coach is trying to do in building a championship football team, it was obvious to me that we needed to foot the big bill to redo the field. Just for drainage purposes.
“When I walked around it after a really heavy rain, it felt like something where I wouldn’t feel comfortable playing full speed or being able to cut the same way I would as a player. So the return on investment was very obvious to me right away. That our players, their ability to play at a high level, minimizing the probability of injury, we made that major investment that cost a pretty penny. And we did the same thing at the practice fields, too.”