Losing teams are distracting disheartened fans with awesome amenities.
Every league needs losers, but even failing franchises need to bring in the crowds. That's why underachieving teams are in a stadium arms race, building and promoting new features purpose-built to keep fans distracted when games get out of hand. The games may not be great, but going to them has never been more fun.
EverBank Field, Jacksonville Jaguars
Photo: courtesy of jaguars.com
The Jaguars are tearing out 9,500 seats at their stadium and installing a party deck with cabanas and pools. For a team that has won five, two, and four games over the last three seasons, it makes sense to provide fans with something to do during the fourth quarter when the scores already out of hand. With the Jags planning to start journeyman Chad Henne over rookie Blake Bortles at QB this year, fans don't have much to be excited about beyond the two new pools ($250 for a dip) and an open bar. The deck is also outfitted with televisions so attendees can follow games of consequence going on elsewhere.
FedEx Field, Washington Redskins
Despite the excitement RGIII has brought to D.C., the Redskins’ stock has remained low. Last season's 3-13 effort certainly didn't help. Fortunately for frustrated followers, FedEx Field has a Montecristo Club that has been branded a tobacco shop, allowing it to circumvent Maryland statutes against smoking in public. When it’s chilly out and the team is riding out the string, fans with premium tickets can kick back in one of the club’s 70-plus plush leather chairs and fire up a nice Upmann, Romeo y Julieta, or Montecristo. And no, there's not a cigar store Indian out front.
Marlins Park, Miami Marlins
The Marlins have won two World Series, and both times they dismantled the team directly afterward and found their way toward the bottom of the standings for a number of years. So when they opened up Marlins Park in 2012, they brought some South Beach to the park to hedge against the downswings. The Clevelander nightclub beyond the left field wall features DJs, a pool, barmaids in beachwear, frozen Red Bull and vodka cocktails, and decent views for fans who actually care about the score.
Citi Field, New York Mets
The Mets' glorious ballpark is five years old and already beloved by hard-to-please New York sports fans. Unfortunately, no one has anything nice to say about the home team. By the middle of summer, the place is a mausoleum cooled by the Mets fanning at the plate. The fans who do show up congregate in the expansive center field plaza, where they can choose from a plethora of great stadium food options, including the Shake Shack, Blue Smoke BBQ, and El Verano Taqueria, or visit the craft beer kiosk. The sunset views are fantastic, making this one of the Big Apple's best outdoor eateries. Clear eyes, full stomach, can definitely lose.
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