Washington Redskins fans are showing their displeasure with the team’s losing ways by staying home.
Last month the Redskins admitted that demand for tickets was down, and with training camp now open, far fewer fans than usual are showing up to watch practice.
The Associated Press reported that Monday’s practice may have had the lowest attendance ever in the 10 years the team has been training at its facility in Ashburn, Virginia. Tight end Chris Cooley, who’s in his eighth training camp with the team, said the number of fans in camp isn’t even close to what it used to be.
“It is probably a fifth of what I’ve seen on a normal day,” Cooley said.
Part of the issue may not be specific to the Redskins: The lockout may have turned off fans, or just made it harder for them to plan ahead for a trip to training camp. But some of it is specific to the Redskins, and particularly owner Dan Snyder. Longtime Redskins fan Justin Caballero told the Associated Press Snyder is the reason fans are turned off.
“I know some who have gotten rid of their tickets,” Caballero said. “The owner — that’s the biggest one I get, they don’t like the owner. And they don’t want to give him no more money.”
The Redskins claim their fan support is still strong.
“The Redskins are just as popular. We remain a global franchise,” spokesman Tony Wyllie said. “TV ratings were up 12 percent last year, merchandise sales were up, and we are on target to extend our sellout streak. Everyone is affected by what has happened recently, but we still remain popular as one of the most storied franchises in the NFL.”
But Cooley acknowledged that the fans are turned off by the Redskins’ lack of success.
“It’s frustrating to hear a negative side of the fan towards this team,” Cooley said. “I’ve been fortunate that I’ve always had so many people support me, but it’s hard to listen to the radio and have anyone dog us. No one likes that. It all comes down to winning.”