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Are Redskins treating fans right?

Team sues 125 season ticket holders.

By Karen Datko Sep 29, 2009 7:34PM

You've lost your job or your business has slipped? Thank your lucky stars if you don't have a Washington Redskins season ticket contract.

The Washington Post reported that the team has sued 125 season ticket holders who wanted out of their contract in the last five years, including a struggling 72-year-old grandmother, no less, who didn't hire a lawyer and now faces a default judgment of $66,364. That includes $5,300 for two premium seats for every year through 2017. 

Another fan who was sued cannot work because he's a paranoid schizophrenic. (That suit was later dropped.) Many of the 24 or so defendants interviewed by the Post said they're hurting financially.

Seems heartless, no?

The Redskins' general counsel told the Post it's unusual.

"The Washington Redskins routinely works out payment plans and alternate arrangements with hundreds of ticket holders every year," David Donovan said. "For every one we sue, I would guess we work out a deal with half a dozen."

We don't get it. If people can't pay, the Redskins could sell the tickets to someone else, even if they're long-term contracts for premium seats. In fact, in some cases, the Redskins reportedly resold tickets they'd recovered from fans to an online ticket broker. (For more about that, read this Washington Post story.)

Not only are the Redskins the NFL's most profitable team, Forbes said, "Premium seating is ... a hot commodity in D.C., as the Redskins generated more than $45 million in luxury suite revenue for the Redskins last year, the most in the NFL."

Other teams aren't doing so well. USA Today reports that at least 12 NFL teams may have TV blackouts because home games haven't sold out. On the other hand, that paper said, "The Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers have sellout streaks that date back to the 1970s, and fans who cancel their season tickets would quickly be replaced by those on a waiting list."

Do other teams sue fans who want out of ticket contracts? According to the Post, nine NFL teams said they don't. Two others said they have, and the rest wouldn't comment or didn't respond to inquiries.

Dashiell Bennett at Deadspin observes that some of the people who were sued aren't as hapless of the grandmother, whose real estate business collapsed when the housing bubble went bust. Also, he points out, some people admittedly didn't read or understand the contract.

"Daniel Snyder haters are likely boiling over with rage at this point, but the Redskins say they do everything they can to work out payments plans and in any case, they gots to get paid," Dashiell wrote.

We like the reader comment (from "loved1") that Doug Feaver included in a post at dot.comments at The Washington Post:

"These people were adults who knowingly signed long-term contracts for unnecessary expensive luxury items. That was a huge gamble on their parts .... HOWEVER, just when I didn't think the Redskins franchise could sink any lower and show any more contempt for their fans. Wow! ..."

What do you think? Is the Redskins organization justified?

Update: The Washington Post reported that the Redskins will ask a court to vacate the $66,364 judgment against the grandmother.

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