Friday, September 4, 2009

Proof That Dan Snyder Has No Soul

This morning I stumbled upon this article in the Washington Post while trying to collect some data on season ticket offerings in the NFL. Now I'll be the last one you hear whining about 'high ticket prices'. Generally, attending a sporting event (especially one like a baseball game) is a relatively cheap outing. The FCI is a load of crap in my opinion. Yes, if you take your wife and 2 kids to the Yankees game, buy 4 beers, a whole Pizza, a Jeter jersey, and a signed baseball, you're going to spend that $400 or whatever it is. But let's be realistic. I've landed weekday front row bleacher seats at Camden Yards for $15...and they came with a FREE $8 Boog's BBQ sandwich. Camden Yards is not Yankee Stadium, but they sure play (and lose to) the Yankees a lot.

Anyway, 'high' ticket prices are a separate issue from the article above. It turns out a 72 year old woman had signed a 10-year contract to purchase season tickets to Redskin games through 2017. She's a real estate agent and asked for the Skins to let her out of her contract because of obvious slow sales due to the economic downturn. They refused and sued her for $66,000+, forcing her into bankruptcy. The woman is a long time season ticket holder. I understand the need to enforce a contract, but this seems like a bad position to put yourself in when it comes to Public Relations.

Apparently the Redskins have sued 125 season ticket holders in the last 5 years that tried to get out of their deals. Perhaps many of them didn't have the forsight not to sign such long season ticket contracts (not surprising to me, I've met a lot of idiot Redskin fans growing up in the DC area). The team claims that, "For every one we sue, we make deals with half a dozen." That seems reasonable to me. Contracts are there for a reason, and you can't let just anyone jump ship on you. I know this is simply a heart-felt news story, but it's one that an owner or PR executive should pay close attention to. It seems to me that this is one they should have let go.

Given her situation, I feel like Hill could have gotten out of her contract had she fought this in court--or at least could have been required to pay significantly less. From what I know, getting season tickets to Redskins games is not easy. Those contracts (even in these times) could be replaced fairly swiftly. At least the Redskins could sell them for less and require those that backed out of the contract to simply pay the difference. And the Skins sued Hill not only for the tickets, but also interest, lawyer, and court fees. Quite a smackdown! Unfortunately, she feels that she must always pay her debts, does not 'believe in bakruptcy', and did not fight the situation. The court ruling was of course in the Redskins favor because of this.

The article gets into a lot of other details that I'll leave for everyone else to read. They get into Hill's finances, which she didn't seem to plan very well for to begin with (why does a 72 year old woman have a $5,000 mortgage and no money in savings?). Anyway, I just like to rag on Dan Snyder.


  1. The problem I have is that contract law is not supposed to be punitive; there's a concept called mitigation, which means that if I can turn around and sell to someone else the thing you promised (but failed) to buy from me, you should only have to pay my incidental costs from switching buyers. If the Redskins are anything like the Giants, they have a season ticket waiting list a mile long, and all it would take to sell Hill's ticket would be one, rather pleasant, phone call. In those cases, why stick it to the Hills of this world?

  2. Thanks for the post, Reid. I was thinking the same thing but without all the law lingo. I know there are thousands of Skins fans waiting for their chance at tickets. It doesn't make much sense for the Redskins to pursue the full $70,000 or so. I imagine the PR and legal costs would be much higher than if they just sold the tickets to someone else and had pay the cost of the switch. But as I said...Dan Snyder seems to have no soul.