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Official Review by Andrew Van Cleve, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
"Historic" RFK Stadium, as some people in Washington D.C. would call Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, is code for an old stadium that has character but none of the current amenities you would find in modern stadiums. However, if you grew up in Washington and went to RFK Stadium for Redskins games then you would welcome any opportunity to return when you can - especially for football. This is one of the classic old stadiums left in the United States where you still have an opportunity to attend a live sporting event. As such, the Military Bowl is your last chance to see a football game played in this iconic venue.
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".
The food and beverage selection at the Military Bowl was pretty standard fare. With $9 chicken tenders, $8 pizza and $4 hot dogs, I chose to wait and eat after the game. They did have some exotic items such as Jerk Ribs ($13), Jerk Chicken ($10), Carne Asada ($10) and Quesadillas ($9), but at those prices you might as well eat at one of the great restaurants Washington D.C. has to offer.
Beer prices were not much better at $8 for a domestic 16-ounce can and $10 for an import. As is usually the case with one-off winter events, there is no draft beer available just canned.
The stadium was barely half full for the 2011 Military Bowl as attendance was 25,042 in the 46,000 capacity stadium. There were a lot of empty sections in the upper deck. Also, the temperature was in the high 30's which keeps a crowd rather subdued.
Of course, if you waited to eat after the game, you would starve as there is nothing to find around RFK Stadium. You need to head back into town for a good meal. Or you should tailgate before the game as the parking lots around the stadium are expansive and the tailgates are excellent.
The fans that did show up were impressive and energetic. The crowd was overwhelmingly Air Force but they did not get rowdy enough the shake the infamous stands of RFK Stadium. But, anyone who shows up at a non-BCS conference bowl game on a Wednesday afternoon is hardcore in my book, so tip of the cap to Toledo fans as well.
The best part of RFK Stadium is access. The stadium has easy access to the Anacostia Freeway (or 295) which will take you north or south of the city. The stadium has plenty of parking "" especially for sparsely attended events. Cost is high at $20, but the ease of driving to and from the stadium is worth it. Plus, the stadium is in a bad neighborhood so you would have to be a local to understand where to park on city streets.
If you don't feel like driving, then take the Metro to the Stadium Armory stop on the Orange or Blue Line. The stop is about a 10-minute walk to the stadium.
A half-full stadium leads to cheap tickets on the secondary market. If you are not into the secondary market, the cheapest tickets from the box office were $25 "" a good deal for a bowl game.
I bought a ticket from a scalper for $10, which is cheaper than most of the official tours stadiums now offer. So if you just want to see inside RFK Stadium then buy a cheap ticket. But, $10 is also a steal for a college bowl game. Plus none of the ushers will check your ticket since the stadium is half empty so you can sit anywhere you want.
This is RFK Stadium. It opened in 1961 and, in its heyday, was one of the best. These days it is difficult to attend a sporting event in historical venues as they are normally torn down the year after the new one is built. No stadium tour is complete without a visit to RFK Stadium.
**Andrew Van Cleve is a sports travel expert and is the Ultimate Fan.
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400 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001