Fedex Field, originally named "Jack Kent Cooke Stadium", opened in 1997 and is the third
home for this long and storied franchise in the D.C. area, after having played in Griffith
Stadium and then RFK Stadium. Located in Landover, Maryland close to the "Cap Center",
this stadium is just a few miles from their former venue and only about 8 miles from
downtown Washington and the seat of our federal government.
Getting to the stadium
Located off I-95, getting to the stadium by car is the major option for fans attending the
game. The stadium is nestled in a wooded, suburban setting, and is surrounded by office
parks and gated, residential subdivisions nearby, but the wooded layout is such that offsite
parking is not an option. With the entire stadium sold out by subscription, the Redskins sell
all their parking around the stadium on a season ticket basis, so the only cash parking for
folks like us is at the Cap Center parking lot, and then a mile and a half hike or a shuttle
ride. Our hotel was only a 25 minute walk away, so being a nice crisp day we hoofed it over
and saved the $15 parking fee and the traffic jams after the game.
With no neighborhood ambience and massive surface lots, FedEx Field is perfectly suited
for tailgating, and as we approached the stadium grounds, lots of tailgating is what we saw.
But something was amiss.... where were the plumes of smoke and the smell of charcoal?
The footballs being tossed around? Guys in sweats and old clothes playing pickup games?
The tailgate scene here smacked of something surrealistic... choice of Merlot or fine
Chardonnays ... pate and quiche on the menu...Well coiffed gentlemen in pressed, pleated
slacks, chatting on their cell phones or tapping on their palm pilots. OK... maybe we are
exaggerating a bit here for emphasis, but trust us when we tell you that we would have to
look long and hard to find a good old fashioned bratwurst and an Old Milwaukee here. Here
at FedEx Field... NFL football has gone corporate, and the pregame experience was our
first taste of what we were to find once inside.
Outside the Venue
With the naming rights bought by Federal Express, the purple/orange/green corporate
colors decorate the outside of the stadium, and these colors ring the entire top of the
stadium. Walking around the stadium we saw quite a few hospitality tents offering pre
game parties for corporate clients, and the "Redskins Marching Band" could be found
outside providing pregame entertainment. The band was very nice!
Once in the building, the first thing that caught our eye was that each of the concourses
was named, and featured an historical exhibit on the honoree. The lower concourse is
named the "George Preston Marshall" level, the club concourse the "Joe Gibbs" level, and
the upper concourse the "Pete Rozelle" level. While concourses here are brightly lit and
wide, they are pretty ordinary. Concession marquees are poorly labeled, and bear
corporate ad panels that have no connection to the food being sold. The main merchandise
store is called the "Redskins Hall of Fame" store and is on the main level - lots of cool stuff
but really pricey, even by major league standards. There is but one escalator tower to take
you to the upper deck, and that is on the southwest side of the stadium. There are two sets
of escalators inside the concourse for club/suite ticket holders. We should also mention
that in the lower level end zone concourses are two bars in the center, with plenty of
monitors showing NFL Sunday Ticket action from other games.
The club level seats here ring the entire building, and are completely open air with no
weather protection. There are also two levels of suites ringing the building. Interestingly,
the upper suites in each end zone have open air seating as well. Club level amenities
include several food courts, a sports bar, a patio bar and a humidor room/cigar bar.
The seating bowl
This is one BIG stadium -- well over 80,000 seats broken into three levels. The lower and
upper level seats are colored wine red, and the center club level seats are done in
yellow... Redskins colors. Terrific, right? BUT! Then add the orange/purple/green Fedex
colors, ringing the top of the seating bowl, and you have a hideous mess of mismatched
At each endzone at the club level are jumbotron and companion dot matrix boards which
are somewhat small compared to the giant video boards going up in the newer venues
elsewhere. We do, however, like the placement of the main scoreboards in this location
rather than high atop the seating bowls, as this brings this vital component of the game
experience closer to the action and the fans.
Along the sidelines on the club level balcony are synchronized ad panels, and in each of
the four corners on the upper balcony are digital LED boards, which were used primarily for
out of town scores.
We looked long and hard for something notable here, but came up with the standard
ballpark dreck and that's it. Again the eye-popping prices - $5 for a hot dog, $6 for fries, $7
for a beer. Owner Dan Snyder is sucking on his one billion dollar lemon, and somebody has
to pay for this... guess it has to be these poor sap Redskins fans.
The Redskins proudly display their championship flags high above the north endzone, and
their two division titles won at this venue are hung on the suite balcony just below. Very
impressive is the Redskins ring of fame - with almost 40 names of Redskins greats -
players, coaches and ownership/management, displayed on the upper level balcony all the
way around the seating bowl. Done VERY nicely!
Extra point - The Redskins have sold out the ENTIRE building to season ticket holders. They
heavily promote the "season ticket waiting list" to replenish fans who may drop out, and
keep the perceived demand for tickets high.
Touchdown (or should we say "SACK") --- #78 Bruce Smith, one of the greatest players ever
to wear a Buffalo Bills uniform, is here in Washington, still wreaking havoc in the backfield.
Yes he is a fan favorite here in D.C., and we were proud to join in with the trademark
"BRUUUUUUUUUCE" chant for one of OUR all time revered players!
Fumble - to the folks operating the out of town scoreboard, who transposed the scores on
a couple of occasions.... yes they did show "Buffalo 10, San Diego 0 in the 1st quarter", until
they added "Touchdown by F. Jones", we thought WE had the lead. Ugghhhh! For the
prices you folks charge for tickets, please GET IT RIGHT!
Touchdown - "The Washington Redskins Marching Band". They sit directly beneath the
south end zone scoreboard, and entertain during TV breaks, giving a college football feel
to the experience. The Redskins signature fight song, "Hail to the Redskins" is performed
after each score.
Extra point - on the plaza is an enclosed beer garden offering post game music and
entertainment under the theme "The Fifth Quarter". Given the lack of post game
destinations adjacent to the stadium, this is kind of the thing to do here.
Fumble - Next door is the Cap Center, now named US Airways Arena, which has been totally
neglected and is one run down and shabby venue. Overgrown landscaping, dilapidated
signage, broken windows. Yet they still USE this place. What a disgrace!!!
Extra Point - Hail to the Redskins! Hail Victory! What do you get when you mix an NFL team
off to a miserable 1-5 start and a home game attended by the roadtrippers??? Simple, a 2-5
club that is transformed in the presence of the mysterious USRT karma. Two in a row and 5
of the last 6 for the hometown club while in our presence!!!
To Mike Houck of Atlanta, Georgia, Redskins fan and season ticket holder who flies in for
most of the games. Mike made his precious seats available to us, at face value, no less!
Thanks Mike - great seats and you are enshrined in the Ultimate Sports Road Trip Hall of
When we visit new venues we are often greeted by fans who speak of great pride of their
new digs... here it was just the opposite. Almost all the people we spoke to yearned for "the
good old days" at RFK - small, cramped and intimate, yet apparently an intense and raucous
atmosphere that has been difficult to duplicate here at FedEx. Granted the Redskins are in
the midst of a pretty bad year when expectations were running high, but we were really
appalled at the late arriving crowd, the lack of electricity in the building and the "tea and
crumpets" fans sitting on their hands, politely applauding and generally keeping the
decibel level low despite the presence of their hated rivals - the New York Giants. Add the
fact that the home team thumped the favored Giants, and we were left wondering, "just
what is going on here!?". To summarize - a so-so stadium built in an era when much glitzier
and showier stadiums are opening elsewhere, a hometown crowd which is too corporate,
too club seat, too wine and cheese, and those God-awful FedEx colors! Hey Washington ---
paint your faces red and yellow, chug a few beers, grill some jumbo burgers at your tailgate
and pile them high with condiments, and then walk into your stadium and scream your guts
out for your beloved 'Skins, and you will earn our praise.
Food and team store 3
Scoreboard and electronics 5
Fan support 8
Location and neighborhood 4
Banners and history 8
In game entertainment 7.5
Concourses/fan comfort 5.5
Bonus: Tailgate scene 1, Marching Band 2, Fight song 1, Ring of Honor 1