This article was originally featured on StadiumJourney.com
Fed Ex Field opened in August of 1997. It is the second largest stadium in the NFL, with a capacity of just under 92,000.
FANFARE SCORE : 22 (out of 35)
F ood and beverage: 4
Fed Ex Field offers some unique food and beverage options. In addition to burgers, dogs, nachos, etc., there are a few Johnny Rockets restaurants located on the ground level concourse. Their menu consists of a variety of burgers, fries, onion rings and even a chicken tender basket. There are also several Papa John’s stands located on the concourse.
There are several easily accessible beer vendors. Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite are all available in 16-ounce cans for $8. Guinness is also available. There are at least three bars located on the concourse, all of which sell a variety of mixed drinks. The “Redskin Rita” is the team’s signature margarita, and is available for $6.
Hot chocolate is available for $4, though it’s made with the same mix you can buy from the store. It helps warm you up, but lacks flavor. Bottled water will set you back $5, while a large soda costs $6.
If you’re looking to get some food and a drink, expect to pay $10 to $15. If you plan on having a few beers, be prepared to spend between $25 and $50.
A tmosphere: 3
The atmosphere at the game I attended was average. The fans got loud when the opposing team faced a third or fourth down, but it was nothing out of the ordinary.
If I had attended a game at this time last year, the atmosphere likely would have been much more exciting. The reality is that the Redskins have suffered three losses in their last four games to winless teams. Needless to say, the fans weren’t shy about showing their frustration with the team during the game.
Because the stadium is in just its 13th season of existence, there is a lack of historical presence. The stadium does display, however, a ring of honor that recognizes franchise greats such as Sammy Baugh, Darrell Green and Art Monk.
N eighborhood: 2
If you’re standing on the steps of Fed Ex Field, all you can see is parking lots and trees. About a mile or two beyond that, however, you’ll find a local sports bar called The Sideline. The restaurant offers a variety of burgers, sandwiches, soups and entrees, including crab cakes, steak, salmon and ribs. From 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, they offer half-price wings.
Their drink menu is nothing special, offering the usual when it comes to beers. Their mixed-drink menu features one named after the late Sean Taylor.
The restaurant has several flat-screen TV’s as well as a giant screen that overlooks the entire bar. There is an upper level that’s viewable from below, though it appears reserved for a game-day radio talk show. There’s also a stage set in front of the kitchen area for live music.
Other than The Sideline, there weren’t any local sports bars in the area. There was, however, a McDonald's, Uno Chicago Grill, and Chuck E Cheese nearby.
F ans: 3
The Washington Redskins are well known for setting attendance records year after year, thanks in large part to their loyal fans. On this particular day, however, the Redskin faithful weren’t as ardent. There were plenty of empty seats as the struggling hometown team faced a winless Kansas City squad.
While the fans got loud during critical parts of the game, it failed to live up to what I expected from a 92,000-seat stadium. The fans voiced their displeasure often, booing as the team failed to score on a last-minute drive before halftime, and late in the fourth quarter when it became evident that the game was over. This is to be expected. I would have done the same had my team played as poorly as the Redskins did that day.
I’d like to think that most Redskins fans are intelligent, as my roommate (who is a Skins fan) fits that description. The people sitting near us during the game, however, led me to believe otherwise. Nobody had even heard of Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop, who was well publicized as the Mr. Irrelevant of the 2009 draft. At one point during the game, a nearby fan asked his friend if the Chiefs (who belong to the AFC West) were in the same division as the Titans (who reside in the AFC South). His friend replied, “Uh, yea I think so,” which forced me to disregard anything they said for the remainder of the game.
A ccess: 4
There are several restrooms located throughout the stadium, and are easily accessible before and during the game. Halftime, however, is a different story. Lines should be expected.
As I mentioned before, the stadium is surrounded by parking lots. Most of these lots are reserved for season-ticket holders. There are a few cash lots nearby, but I wouldn’t want to be in a car anywhere near the stadium when 90,000 people coming rushing out.
I would suggest using the Metro to get to the stadium. The Largo Town Center Station is less than a mile from the stadium, making for a 10 to 15 minute walk. A one-way pass can be purchased for just a few bucks, depending on where you’re coming from. If you don’t want to wait in line after the game, an all-day unlimited pass can be purchased for $8. This is a bit more expensive, but saves time if you’re in a hurry after the game.
R eturn on Investment: 3
The overall experience was a good one, mostly because I had never been to Fed Ex Field before. It was fun visiting a new stadium and seeing what set it apart from other NFL venues.
But I’m not exactly eager to get back. Unless you’re an avid Redskins fan, the price of admission likely isn’t worthwhile.
E xtra Points: 3
I award three extra points for three different reasons. The first is that there are several Redskins cheerleaders available and willing to take pictures with you on the concourse before the game. This makes for a fan-favorite photo opportunity and an interesting story to tell when the girlfriend/wife skims through your camera upon returning home from the game.
The second extra point is for an incredibly unique idea. Before and during the game, fans can sign up to be the official designated driver of the game. Two fans are selected and announced as the official designated drivers of the game and are awarded a prize.
The third extra point is awarded for the team band that plays when the Redskins score. They have end zone seats underneath the video board. As far as I know, the Redskins are one of just a few teams who have a band play at their games.
While I enjoyed visiting a new NFL stadium, the experience is not much to write home about. If you’re not a Redskins fan, a trip to Fed Ex Field isn’t likely to impress.
Fed Ex Field shouldn’t be on the “must visit” list, but it’s not necessarily a bad place to watch a game either. Overall, I would rate it as an average experience.