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Redskins’ camp remains fan unfriendly

Jun 20, 2008, 7:04 AM EDT

With the departure of Joe Gibbs and the arrival of Jim Zorn, some things have changed about the Washington Redskins’ training camp while some things have remained the same.

One change is that camp no longer is built by Home Depot; instead, it will be presented by RE/MAX (properly typed in all caps and with the front slash). Instead of an area where kids could be amused by playing on work benches with toy hammers, maybe there will be a place where they can fill out sub-prime mortgage applications.

One thing that won’t change is that Redskins fans will have very limited opportunities to see the team in camp. Here’s the complete schedule of practices that will be open to the public (don’t blink, you might miss it):

Sunday, July 20
Open Practice, Morning
8:30 a.m. ET

Monday, July 21
Open Practice, Morning
8:30 a.m. ET

Tuesday, July 22
Open Practice, Morning
8:30 a.m. ET

Wednesday, July 23
Open Practice, Morning
8:30 a.m. ET

Thursday, July 24
Open Practice, Morning
8:30 a.m. ET

Friday, July 25
Open Practice, Morning
8:30 a.m. ET

Saturday, July 26
Includes Intra-squad Scrimmage
Individual drills begins at 1:20 p.m. ET
Scrimmage begins at 2 p.m. ET

Sunday, July 27
Open Practice, Morning
8:30 a.m. ET

Monday, July 28
Open Practice, Morning
8:30 a.m. ET

That’s it. Nine practices in nine days, no more than one in any single day. That’s makes the Redskins among the least fan-friendly teams in the NFL in this respect.

Not all teams have their camp schedules out yet, but I pulled up a few at random. Between July 25 and August 20, the Buffalo Bills will have 20 practices open to their fans, including two days where both practices are open. The San Diego Chargers will have 15 open practices between July 25 and August 14. The Packers have a reputation for being one of the most fan friendly organizations in the league and they back that up with 24 open practices in 32 days. Their fans can go see them up until 10 days before the season opens.

For the past several years, the Redskins have had fewer than 10 open practices each camp. I always thought it was a Gibbs thing, but the practice has outlasted his tenure.

I’ve stepped up onto my virtual soapbox in the past and I’ve gone on about how such limited availability isn’t doing right by the fans and is hurting the team in the long term as camp is the only opportunity many kids who may or may not be future fans have to see the team in person.

But nobody else seems to care so, while I still feel the same way, no rant is following here. Apparently, the Redskins believe that this is the best thing for the team, despite the fact that most other teams think that more is better.

But Dan Snyder, Vinny Cerrato and company don’t tend to do things the way the rest of the crowd does them. That has served them well in some instances—especially when it comes to making money—and not so well in others.

  1. Joe in Raleigh - Jun 20, 2008 at 10:01 AM

    I wonder how much of this is a function of having camp at Redskins Park? I know the Packers go to a local college for camp. Don’t know about the Bills or Chargers.

    Having camp so close to home would presumably mean that it is easily accessible to lots of fans — perhaps more than the team is able to accommodate. Anytime there is a throng like that the team has to pay extra parking staff, extra security, emergency medical staff, and countless other things. While it’s free for the fans, it seems like a big expense for the team.

    They tried charging a fee one year to govern the numbers. They also tried making camp-goers print out free tickets from their computer. I don’t like it, but it seems like the new method at keeping the cost down is simply to reduce the “open” days.

    The better solution would be to take camp back to Frostburg or Carlisle or another spot that is far enough from DC to keep the number of camp visitors in check. How about a spot like JMU?

    I’m like you, I hate that the team is cutting off access for new fans. Especially when there’s a better way to solve the problem.

  2. Joe in Raleigh - Jun 20, 2008 at 10:01 AM

    I wonder how much of this is a function of having camp at Redskins Park? I know the Packers go to a local college for camp. Don’t know about the Bills or Chargers.

    Having camp so close to home would presumably mean that it is easily accessible to lots of fans — perhaps more than the team is able to accommodate. Anytime there is a throng like that the team has to pay extra parking staff, extra security, emergency medical staff, and countless other things. While it’s free for the fans, it seems like a big expense for the team.

    They tried charging a fee one year to govern the numbers. They also tried making camp-goers print out free tickets from their computer. I don’t like it, but it seems like the new method at keeping the cost down is simply to reduce the “open” days.

    The better solution would be to take camp back to Frostburg or Carlisle or another spot that is far enough from DC to keep the number of camp visitors in check. How about a spot like JMU?

    I’m like you, I hate that the team is cutting off access for new fans. Especially when there’s a better way to solve the problem.

  3. TheMalcolmConnection - Jun 20, 2008 at 11:08 AM

    I understand that it is fan unfriendly, but truly as far as I’m concerned, the function of training camp isn’t to give the fans an extended look at players. It’s to get the team ready for the upcoming season.

    Would I like to see them have it twice a day and have multiple autograph signing sessions? Sure. But if multiple practices puts the players as risk injury or heat related problems just for me, it’s a risk I’d rather not take.

  4. TheMalcolmConnection - Jun 20, 2008 at 11:08 AM

    I understand that it is fan unfriendly, but truly as far as I’m concerned, the function of training camp isn’t to give the fans an extended look at players. It’s to get the team ready for the upcoming season.

    Would I like to see them have it twice a day and have multiple autograph signing sessions? Sure. But if multiple practices puts the players as risk injury or heat related problems just for me, it’s a risk I’d rather not take.

  5. Kirby - Jun 20, 2008 at 11:54 AM

    I think having this many practices open is rather generous. I agree with themalcolmconnection that the purpose of TC is to get the team ready to play, not to amuse the fans. I went to TC last summer for the first time, and frankly I was bored (the stifling temps didn’t help either). If fans want to go, they have plenty of opportunities with the schedule as posted.

    I also agree with joe when he says that probably part of the reason for it is hosting at the Park.

    Maybe it’ll change if they move to VA Beach as has been discussed.

  6. Kirby - Jun 20, 2008 at 11:54 AM

    I think having this many practices open is rather generous. I agree with themalcolmconnection that the purpose of TC is to get the team ready to play, not to amuse the fans. I went to TC last summer for the first time, and frankly I was bored (the stifling temps didn’t help either). If fans want to go, they have plenty of opportunities with the schedule as posted.

    I also agree with joe when he says that probably part of the reason for it is hosting at the Park.

    Maybe it’ll change if they move to VA Beach as has been discussed.

  7. Rich Tandler - Jun 20, 2008 at 6:32 PM

    Malcolm and Kirby, getting the team ready for play and being fan friendly are not mutually exclusive. After I wrote this article, I checked the Giants’ site and they have 30 open practices, about the same number they had last year. It didn’t seem to hurt their preparation for the season.

    It’s not an office job. If you can’t prepare in front of a few thousand friendly fans, how do you expect to be able to execute in from of 70,000 hostile fans in the Meadowlands?

  8. Rich Tandler - Jun 20, 2008 at 6:32 PM

    Malcolm and Kirby, getting the team ready for play and being fan friendly are not mutually exclusive. After I wrote this article, I checked the Giants’ site and they have 30 open practices, about the same number they had last year. It didn’t seem to hurt their preparation for the season.

    It’s not an office job. If you can’t prepare in front of a few thousand friendly fans, how do you expect to be able to execute in from of 70,000 hostile fans in the Meadowlands?

  9. Rich Tandler - Jun 20, 2008 at 6:39 PM

    And, Joe, the Packers have camp at their training facility in Green Bay, just a stone’s throw from Lambeau Field.

    I’m sure that there are plenty of extra expenses involved in opening a camp session in Ashburn. I don’t care. At a hundred bucks and up for a ticket, thirty bucks and up for a place to park, so on a so forth, Danny can give a little back.

    If the community-owned Packers can swing it, the Skins can, too.

  10. Rich Tandler - Jun 20, 2008 at 6:39 PM

    And, Joe, the Packers have camp at their training facility in Green Bay, just a stone’s throw from Lambeau Field.

    I’m sure that there are plenty of extra expenses involved in opening a camp session in Ashburn. I don’t care. At a hundred bucks and up for a ticket, thirty bucks and up for a place to park, so on a so forth, Danny can give a little back.

    If the community-owned Packers can swing it, the Skins can, too.

  11. Rich Tandler - Jun 20, 2008 at 6:46 PM

    Slight correction–some Packers camp activities are at St. Norbert College, which is about 10 minutes away from Lambeau.

  12. Rich Tandler - Jun 20, 2008 at 6:46 PM

    Slight correction–some Packers camp activities are at St. Norbert College, which is about 10 minutes away from Lambeau.

  13. Joe in Raleigh - Jun 21, 2008 at 2:00 PM

    “At a hundred bucks and up for a ticket, thirty bucks and up for a place to park, so on a so forth, Danny can give a little back.”

    Can’t argue with that.

  14. Joe in Raleigh - Jun 21, 2008 at 2:00 PM

    “At a hundred bucks and up for a ticket, thirty bucks and up for a place to park, so on a so forth, Danny can give a little back.”

    Can’t argue with that.

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