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Jack Kent Cooke is a legend in the Washington, DC metro area. As an owner of the hometown Redskins for over 30 years, his team won three Super Bowls while playing their home games in RFK Stadium. In 1996, ground was broken on a new stadium in suburban Maryland that would bear his name. At a cost of $250 million and a capacity of over 80,000, the new stadium would allow 25 percent more fans to get their hands on the hottest ticket in town. Unfortunately, Mr. Cooke passed away before the stadium that bore his name opened in time for the 1997 NFL season.
New ownership, led by Daniel Snyder, bought the team shortly after Mr. Cooke’s death and sold the naming rights to Federal Express. The stadium has gone through multiple seat expansions (and reductions) over the years, and now holds a capacity of 85,000 on game day. While the Redskins are able to pack more fans into their stadium, they haven’t been able to replicate the atmosphere and titles they had at RFK.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
I'm going to keep it simple here for you - secure a parking pass, get to the game early and tailgate! Yes, they do serve food inside FedEx Field, but nothing stands out to me as a must-have food experience . At the game I most recently attended, I purchased a lukewarm Italian sausage, a bag of peanuts and a draft beer, and it was $21. I know to expect high food prices at any professional sporting event, but for me the quality and variety does not meet the prices being charged.
On the main concourses you will find all of your typical stadium food, along with some specialty dining options like Johnny Rockets. Things improve a little if you are located on the Club Level, with more variety and an overpriced Hooters, but quality and price still remain an opportunity to me as a fan. Coca-Cola products are served at FedEx Field, and you can find a variety of beer throughout the stadium - $9.50 a can.
Again, if you're going to a game at FedEx Field - make a day of it! Lots open four hours before kickoff, so pack a cooler and a grill and enjoy a grand pre-game meal before heading into the stadium. You won't be sorry.
I'll say it again - tailgate! If you don't get there early and partake in the festivities of fellow fans, you are missing out. For me, this is an integral part of gameday at FedEx Field. No matter how the team is performing on the field, the excitement and camaraderie generated in the parking lots before opening kickoff is a great fan experience. Sure, navigating to a parking space through crowds of fans eating, drinking and throwing the pigskin can be a little nerve-wracking, but it's part of the norm at FedEx. Be sure to pack extra food and drink so you can hang out after the game - it sure beats sitting in traffic.
New restrictions on bags being brought into NFL stadiums that began in 2013 have caused a delay in getting the fans through the gates into their seats, so plan accordingly if being there for opening kickoff is a must for you. If you've never been to FedEx Field, there are some things you should be aware of before buying your tickets. If you are looking to buy tickets close to the field (100 Level), prepare to stand for a majority of the game. If you have a young fan with you, this is not a recommended area to sit, as they won't be able to see. If you are sitting past row 12 in the 200's, you will most likely have an obstructed view. I personally would not purchase any tickets in these rows. The club level is the exclusive part of the stadium; however, end zone 'seats' in this level are standing room only. Seats in the upper bowl (400's) are typically going to be the least expensive and also where you will find the more rowdy fans, some who appear to believe a ticket to an NFL game is a license to get overly intoxicated. Based on the company you keep, choose your sections wisely or you could be in for a negative experience. Want to keep the sun out of your eyes on those bright fall days? Sections that end in 17-35 will typically leave you wishing you hadn't left your shades in the car, so avoid those.
As a fan, the stadium concourse and seating bowl are, well, kind of blah. Comparing it to Heinz Field, where there are unique displays and parts of the stadium that make it a more sensory experience, there is a distinct lack of something special at FedEx. The stadium has large high definition displays in each end zone, which are definite upgrades over what they had previously, but that is the most distinguishing feature of the stadium. The fans overall are great, but this stadium lacks the personality the Redskins' previous home had.
Many NFL stadiums are located in downtown areas within easy walking distance of things to before and after the game - not so with FedEx Field. The closest option you have is the Boulevard at Capital Center, a shopping mall with a movie theater and plenty of chain restaurants. If you are looking for a good southern eating experience, you can head over to Carolina Kitchen, located right next to the movie theater. I have not personally eaten there, but have had many recommendations from the locals that it is a great place to chow down after the game.
Why three stars, then? You are only a few miles from downtown Washington, DC, where there is more to do than you probably have time for. If you are in the area visiting, plan on taking some time to head to the museums, see the monuments or catch a show in our nation's capital. Washington.org is a great place to start if you are looking to plan a long weekend in the area.
You would be hard-pressed to find a more loyal and diehard fanbase than those that spend their fall Sundays dressed in burgundy and gold. Long removed from the glory years of their three Super Bowl titles, fans still continue to come out in full force on game days. While success has been fleeting of late, there is still an air of anticipation and excitement at each home game.
I find the fans to be very knowledgeable of their team and the game, and having attended multiple games over the years, I don't think I've ever sat next to other fans that weren't willing to talk football.
Unless you are an obvious fan of a rival NFC East team, the home fans are overall respectful of your right to cheer for someone else. Besides the team fight song, you won't find many other stadium specific cheers that you would need to be prepared for.
As long as FedEx Field has been open, getting to and from the game has always been a complaint of the fan base. Just know that traffic is typically terrible around the stadium for Redskin games, and if you are not a patient person, it could definitely dampen your gameday experience. If you are driving in, your best bet is to secure a parking pass (you can easily find them on StubHub and eBay) and plan on getting there very early and staying late. You can typically find a green lot pass for $40-$50, which are the ones I recommend. They are usually the cheapest and are located closer to the main roads. The closer you park to the stadium, the longer you wait to get out. There is a cash lot off of Sheriff Rd. that will also cost you $50, and it is a pretty good hike from there to get to the stadium. You may find this map on the Redskins website helpful if it's your first time at FedEx Field.
If you prefer public transportation, the Morgan Boulevard station on the blue line of the Metro subway system will drop you off about a mile from the stadium. This is a viable option if you are not planning on tailgaiting or hate traffic; just bring your walking shoes.
Restrooms are located throughout the concourse, but as with any stadium with 80,000 fans they are typically crowded - really crowded. Timing your breaks is key here - if you plan on waiting until halftime, you may not get back to your seat well into the third quarter.
Face value ticket pricing for Redskin games is above the league average, but depending on how the team is performing, there are deals to be found. The typical internet purchasing options are out there, but if you are willing to risk going to the game without tickets and picking up a pair from what seems to be an endless stream of 'independent brokers' roaming through the parking lots, you may be able to find a better deal. This isn't the recommended way, but I have had pretty good success with this over the years. Again, supply and demand will vary the market price greatly.
Assuming you break even and get your tickets at face value, after factoring in a parking pass and food, you can look at easily spending well over $500 for a family of four. With the headache of traffic, the food quality and recent performance of the team, the return on your dollar is pretty low, compared to other NFL stadiums I have attended.
I owe a point for the Washington Redskins Marching Band! A part of the team for over 70 years, you can catch them out in the parking lot pre-game, and they also provide soundtrack during the game. "Hail to the Redskins" has to be the most well-known fight song in all of the NFL.
Bigger, flashier and newer, FedEx Field was to be an upgrade over the previous home of the 'Skins. Unfortunately for me as a fan, this stadium has not been able to recreate that atmosphere and experience I used to get at RFK Stadium. That's a disappointment, as the loyal Redskins fan base deserves something better.
FedEx Field is the home of the NFL's Washington Redskins. This storied franchise has called this stadium home since it opened in 1997. It is one of the largest stadiums in the NFL, with a seating capacity of well over 90,000. It has been called by many the worst stadium on the East Coast, which is a bit unfair, what with RFK Stadium (which, for my money, is the worst stadium on Earth) being on the East Coast and all. It's not so much that it's bad, per se; there just isn't much good about it.
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.
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.
Now that I visited the New Meadowlands Stadium, I can honestly say FedEx Field is better. I'm a big football fan, I love to Hail to the Redskins. That's a great fight song. When the Redskins do well, it makes for a great atomosphere. I heard they redid the scoreboards, if that's true then this place is tremendous. That was a pet peeve of mine.
I've been there 9 times and I'm planning to be there again on October 10th against the Packers to make it a perfect 10.
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Worst stadium in the NFL. Overpriced, no character, terrible traffic, greedy owner. I wouldn't go here again.
A professional sports stadium should offer a wonderful, enjoyable fan experience, regardless of who won.
Having recently experienced my 1st visit to this stadium, I was amazed as to how poor the conditions are for the fans, at least in the nosebleed section. The audio system is deplorable: almost everything comes thru inaudible. You might pick up 1 or 2 words, just enough make you struggle to hear more but it is a cruel joke for the fan who struggles to hear what everyone in the stadium has learned but never does. With today's technology, the question is "Why?" and this same question can be repeated for each point discussed here,
Audio/visual in the concession area: As I stood in line for a snack, I pondered how this might be the only place on earth where sound is faster than light. You HEAR the audio BEFORE you see the delayed broadcast on the monitors.
Come on. I frequent Oriole Park in Camden Yards and, no matter where you experience the game, the AV system is in sync with real time.
Watching the Skins & Dallas play for the div. title on prime time TV, I see deep, muddy skid marks in the turf and all the symptoms leading up to these conditions that have caused player injuries. There was no rain; it was clear. What it did remind me of fields I played on in scholastic sports 40 years ago.
Look, if Foxboro or Lambeau can come up great playing conditions for the players as well as the entire audience, including TV, why can't the stadium of our nation's capital (and in a less-challenging weather / environment) be on par with the rest of the world?
Parking has already been addressed. No answers but this whole thing begins to smell of politics and money.
The fans ... are polite but lacked the festive rowdiness that the Ravens fans live for each Sunday. Yea, you guessed it, I'm from Baltimore and this is a culture thing. What it will be will be ... and "on any given Sunday."
But all of us who paid out of their own pocket deserve the same quality level of experience, no matter what the price or where they sit. These are all equal, "out-of-pocket" dollars that were earned and spent.
Bottom line: Fedex Stadium fails to clear the minimum level of acceptance for fans and visitors. And that's wrong.
I really liked my visit to FedEx Field.
The stadium is quite away from the city of Washington and the parking near the stadium is quite expensive so if you are looking to save money then get there early and prepare yourself for a walk. There is a lot of people tailgating, fans are welcoming and good humoured for the most part, the only real issue being that there is just a big parking area and not a designated tailgate area, so you have a lot of fans tailgating but they are spread out quite widely among parked and discarded cars which takes away from the usual NFL tailgating atmosphere.
The stadium itself is pretty impressive, its large, my tickets were reasonable and there is a good level of noise produced. On the day I attended a game an escalator was broken entering the stadium causing a long line, those around me reassured me this was not a one off but a regular issue since the stadium opened.
Once in the stadium I was impressed, there was a decent selection of places to eat including some stalls unique to the area which is nice as a visiting fan as you don't just have the usual burger and hot dog. There was never really a long line for drinks or food and the staff were very polite and helpful.
I had a fairly cheap ticket for the game in the upper tier but the stadium is well banked and so we had a great view of the game but if you have an issue with heights you may not enjoy it.
I really liked FedEx field, from the local fans I spoke to there is the feeling that the stadium could use some investment and maybe a change of ownership (watching the "marching band" play from some designated seats in the crowd was a fairly perplexing moment) but as a venue for a game it was very enjoyable.
Taking transit to the stadium saves on the parking charge but it is a long walk. The stadium is fairly boring on the main concourse, with few amenities other than concessions. The club level is great though, although very crowded at halftime. Fans are passionate and enjoy the game. There are a few bars nearby just over the highway. Great tailgating atmosphere before the game.
After over 7 years of living in the DC area and hearing fans complain about FedEx, I finally made it out here for Monday Night Football. The walk from the Metro is indeed long, but not unbearable. When you finally make it to the grounds, you're greeted by a pleasant-looking building, and the (very) distant views of the Washington monuments on the way up to the cheap seats are a nice bonus.
The food wasn't cheap, but not as expensive as I assumed it would be. Halftime was enough time for me to hit the men's room and the concession stand and make it back to my seat in time for the kickoff return, which says something nice about the way this place is run.
While I wouldn't say DC sports (or music) fans are the most passionate overall, the football fans seem to be the exception to the rule. They love and support their team, but didn't give me too hard of a time for wearing an Eagles jersey. The verdict: An above-average experience when I expected a below-average one. Worth the trip!
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