In the last year the Washington Redskins have sued 125 Redskin ticket holders for a total of $3.6 million, winning judgments totaling $2 million from 34 season ticket holders. The contracts were tied to corporate and club level seats at FedEx Field. The ticket holders asked to be released from multi-year contracts but the team refused to negotiate and lawsuits were filed. The suits have sought payment in full for the multi-year contracts, interest and lawyers’ fees (All these numbers are from the Washington Post). According to the team, more people than usual have defaulted on their contracts due to the economy.
In recent days the Washington Post has reported the team ripped up and wouldn’t allow signs into the stadium as well as report that fans were told to take off their shirts or they will be ejected or lose their season tickets. It has gotten ugly in the nation’s capital. By the way, all the shirts and signs were anti-Skin management or making fun of newly appointed offensive playcaller Sherm Lewis. David Donovan, The COO for the Washington Redskins, blames the Washington Post’s negative stories for the team’s lag in fan support. Mike Wise, a Washington Post Columnist, had Donovan on his show today and took those acquisitions to task and from there it started to seem like the 4th of July came early. That’s a bad analogy for the fireworks, lets just say there were plenty of rebuttle’s to every question and answer.
Dave Donovan joined The Mike Wise Show on 106.7 the Fan in Washington D.C to talk about Redskins suing their season ticket holders, fan’s loyalty to the team, selling tickets directly to scalpers and former Skins owner John Kent Cooke.
Asked about the report that T-Shirts at the game were asked to be taken off or turned backwards and the signs being taken away or ripped:
“Who told you that? (Wise replied, “The Fans did, they called in”), I am ultimately in charge of stadium operations and we don’t make anybody turn shirts inside out. The banners we do have a prohibition against, we don’t care what they say, and we take them down. They get in the way of other people watching the game and people getting poked in the head, that stuff happens.”
Asked about a story depicting Redskin die-hard fans leaving the bleachers and the picture of the guy:
“The fan that you guys ran a picture of, in fact we found him in the parking lot last night and our blogger wrote about the guy and he said, “no matter what I will always be always be a die-hard Redskins fan; the season isn’t going well, I think we need to make some changes, but I will always come to the games no matter what”. So you guys (Washington Post) run a picture of a guy under that headline, but you don’t ask him the question or find out he doesn’t fit the story. That’s the problem with the Washington Post. “
“I take umbrage to the fact that you’re disrespecting a news organization that has not created these problems, we don’t sit there in the Washington Post news room and gather up and say, “Lets see how we can screw Dan, Vinny and David today, these are problems created on your own volition in many respects aren’t they?
Donovan: “In some respects absolutely, the performance of the field, obviously you guys aren’t affecting the performance on the field. The notion that you guys don’t sit down every week and try to figure out what stories to write about the Redskins in the business, metro, front page and the sports section, and the relentlessly nasty and vicious, the vilification of Danny and Vin, this doesn’t happen on other cities Mike. My real point is this; you guys know that stories about the Redskins sell newspapers. (Wise intervenes, “Positive and Negative ones”) Well, we will see. I think the vast majority of your coverage extremely hostile. The Post treats professional sports like politics.”
Donovan asked if the team would be more discriminating or less this fall when suing the fans over tickets has the process changed since last season:
“Well I am glad you brought that story up to, that’s another one that was blown completely out of proportion that completely distorted our business practices. You guys ran a headline of the story that asserted it was the business practices of this organization to sue their fans, in fact that was the headline you ran on it. Sue the fans, sell to brokers. Well it’s not our business practice to sell to brokers; it is not our business practice and never has been to sue the fans.”
(Editor’s note: There is a lot of “agree to disagree” going on in the interview from front to back, no violence though)