When the Steelers last visited Washington on a Monday night in 2008 their fans took over FedEx Field.
Estimates vary but anywhere from 15 to 40 percent of the crowd that night were clad in black and gold and waving their Terrible Towels. No matter how many were there they were loud, to the point where the home team had to go to a silent snap count because they couldn’t hear the signals.
The Steelers took advantage and left with a 23-6 win.
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Are we in for another Steelers fan invasion for the season opener on Monday?
We just might be.
According to data from Vivid Seats, a secondary ticket marketer, about eight percent of the tickets to Monday night’s game that were resold went to addresses in the state of Pennsylvania.
While a few Redskins fans from the Keystone State might be coming to see their team in the opener it’s a pretty safe bet that the vast majority of those tickets are going to Steelers fans.
We don't know how many fans that is because we don't know how many tickets are being resold. The seating capacity at FedEx is now around 79,000 so even if every ticket was being resold--and they aren't--6,300 Steelers fans in there on Monday night. That would be fairly easy to deal with; they could make some noise but not disrupt snap counts. But that’s only the beginning.
Per Vivid Seats 25 percent of the ticket resales went to Maryland addresses. The DC suburbs are Redskins country but the further west you go in the state the more things start to take on a black and gold hue. Anyone who went to Redskins training camp in Frostburg, which is geographically closer to Pittsburgh than it is to Washington, knows that area is Steelers country.
About 40 percent of the resales are going to Virginia. That’s probably good news for keeping down the percentage of hostile fans on Monday night but not completely. There are Steelers fans everywhere and no doubt some of the resold tickets going to the Commonwealth were delivered to houses sporting Steelers patio flags.
We can find one more clue that tells us we can expect a strong Steelers contingent. Per Vivid Seats the median price for resold tickets to Redskins-Steelers is $217. That is the third highest median price among the Redskins’ eight home games. That can be an indication that the ticket demand from fans of the visiting team are driving the price up.
The two home games that have a higher median are the games against the Cowboys ($285) and Packers ($238). Anyone who has been to a Cowboys-Redskins game in Washington knows that there are always a lot of Dallas fans there. And like the Steelers, the Packers have a national fan base that will show up when they are on the road. It seems safe to make a connection between a high median price and large numbers of fans of the visiting team.
One other thing--historically, the Steelers are the fifth-biggest road draw in the league. You would think that when they are playing about 250 miles away from Pittsburgh they will draw well.
Looking at the numbers here I will not be surprised if somewhere from a fourth (about 20,000) to a third (around 26,000) of the fans in attendance are pulling for the visiting team. It may be more, it may be a little less but, regardless, there’s nothing the Redskins can do about it except play well and take the (visiting) fans out of the game.