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Redskins open up home schedule Sunday — but will fans show?

For the first time in more than 50 years, it appears not all tickets will be sold at FedEx Field for a Washington Redskins home game. (WTOP/Ginger Whitaker)

WASHINGTON — Barring a last-minute ticket grab, there will be seats available for the first time in generations when the Redskins host the Colts this Sunday.

Until recently, that would have been a problem for a Redskins fan wanting to watch the game on TV — but the NFL’s policy of blacking out home games that haven’t sold out has been discontinued.

Nearly every sport in most cities are seeing declines in sports event attendance, and, with a few exceptions, the Redskins haven’t been immune to that trend.

It’s been years since the team have been consistent winners, and the viewing experience at FedEx Field often gets negative feedback from fans — despite being one of the most expensive in the NFL.

Still, team president Bruce Allen feels confident that success is on the horizon.

“The only thing we can do is go out there and try to prove we’re the best team,” Allen told WTOP on Friday. “The game days do it … if you work hard and give everything you have on Sunday, we’ll probably like the results.”

On the field, the team believes new quarterback Alex Smith will help deliver on much-awaited results.

“From the day Alex came here, not only did the coaches embrace him, but his teammates embraced him,” said Allen. “He brings a lot of great experience. Obviously he’s got talent. He led the league last year in passing and we’re just trying to put some pieces around him and create that winning combination.”

The stadium has also seen upgrades aimed at improving fan experience. New incentives for season ticket holders include significant discounts at concession stands and access to exclusive entertainment areas, unavailable to standard ticket holders.

Season ticket holders will also receive a complimentary subscription to NFL Redzone, a special TV channel that showcases only the most exciting and vital moments of a game.

But it remains to be seen whether the changes will have an appreciable impact on fan turnout. For the first time in more than five decades, several tickets remain unsold — and fans are increasingly moving to TV and the internet as a way to keep up with their favorite teams.

“I think we’re going to be ok,” Allen said. “We had a nice pep rally out here at Redskins Park [Thursday] night and I think we’re going to be fine. You can feel the enthusiasm with our fans for this team. It is the right talent and attitude and they’re putting out an effort that we haven’t seen in a while.”


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