Friday, May 24, 2024

LANDOVER, Md.

Trista Langdon’s new task involves putting lipstick on a pig, or rather a hog, for years to come. This metaphor wasn’t initially in the job description when Langdon began overseeing FedEx Field in December 2021 after spending 16 years with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. Her roles with the Hornets varied, and most recently she ran their events and operations department, managing daily activities of the 19,000-seat Spectrum Center, which presented her with a valuable experience in handling the pressure of running a 70,000-seat NFL stadium.

Langdon was in postgame mode following Washington’s loss when she found out that railing had collapsed after the game. This dramatically changed her vision and any ideas about transforming the Prince George’s County property had to be put on hold. The frustration of fans, friends, and foes continues, as it has been years since the organization’s stadium plans have moved forward. They are not looking for an upgrade of FedEx Field, but a move to somewhere or something new, as the stadium has been the butt of countless jokes and league-wide derision.

Despite the anger and mockery, Langdon and vice president of guest experience Joey Colby-Begovich are doing what they can to produce positive game-day experiences. However, they acknowledge FedEx Field was “undermaintained” during the years Dan Snyder owned the team. The long-awaited move came on July 21, 2023, when billionaire investor Josh Harris and partners purchased the Commanders from Snyder for $6.05 billion.

The vague timeline for any new digs opening is 2030 ish, so until then, Langdon and her team are hopeful to continue to maintain and bring back FedEx Field up to standard. The team owners, including NBA legend Magic Johnson, have spent ample time re-engaging fans and the ticket-buying public, resulting in the franchise ranking last in attendance percentage last season (85.9) having announced sellouts for all five home games. The organization has also made 13 new deals since the ownership change with partnerships with the Air Force and Air National Guard.

The franchise that ranked last in attendance percentage last season (85.9) has announced sellouts for all five home games. Fans and skeptics returned for the opener against the Arizona Cardinals, which doubled as a celebration following Snyder’s long-awaited departure. The organization claims that winning cures all—fan satisfaction surveys score higher after victories, though the Commanders are now 4-8. They are now experimenting with premiums for food and beverages available in the stadium. Colby-Begovich said his career has been built on “removing points of friction from guest experience.” Even Sisyphus thinks that task seems impossible in this scenario. Still, his desire for all visitors to have a great experience is sincere.

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