- Richard Smith
FedExField – Washington Commanders
Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
FedExField 1600 FedEx Way Landover, MD 20785
Washington Commanders website FedExField website
Year Opened: 1997 Capacity: 85,000
FedExField is located in suburban Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. It replaced the team’s longtime home RFK Stadium in 1997. The late Jack Kent Cooke, former owner of the Washington Redskins, spent the early 1990s looking for a new stadium. Finally, a location was found in the town of Landover. The former owner passed away before truly enjoying his team playing at their new home. The location of the team was also even known by the United States Postal Service as Raljon, Maryland to honor Cooke’s sons, Ralph and Jon, although it was always technically in the Landover area. Current owner Daniel Snyder ended the usage of the Raljon name a few years back.
FedExField has seen a pretty amazing amount of expansions and reductions in seating capacity in its short lifespan. Entire seating sections have been physically removed from the stadium to reduce capacity. The stadium has seen the removal of some seats to make standing room only “party” sections while other seats have been covered by advertisements and tarps.
There is talk every year about the team moving either back to the District of Columbia or to the commonwealth of Virginia. At this point, there is no specific plan in place or motion. The fan support for the team has definitely been on the downturn lately.
It was announced that in 2022 that the team would change its name to the Washington Commanders.
Food & Beverage 5
There are many decent concession stands around the stadium offering the usual stadium options. The prices are not cheap, but they are pretty much in line with most NFL venues. If you worry about high food costs, your best bet is to eat before game time. There have been changes to some options to make them cheaper and to offer discounts for season ticket holders.
The team has been adding many interesting food options and keeping choices fresh and interesting. Chicken Guy, a Guy Fieri chicken finger stand is very tasty.
The team has done a good job of enhancing the food offerings at both the Club Level and the main concourse. The upper concourse options seem a bit sparer, although that is common with large stadiums.
The fans are knowledgeable about all aspects of the game. Before you go into the stadium, one should spend some time out with the fans in the massive parking lots. There are some great and welcoming groups scattered around. I love to check out the Red Zone Tailgate Lot to see what some of the most extreme fans are cooking up in their pregame preparation.
Once inside the stadium, you may be less impressed with some aspects of the physical structure. Some areas are just poorly designed. The stadium is not aging well. The addition of a fan zone on the main concourse, which includes areas where the fans can gather and still be in sight of the on-field action, is a welcome addition to the stadium. The new name has allowed the team to brighten up much of the stadium and keep it consistent with the new name. This is an improvement over previous years, although I am not sure it is being appreciated much yet.
The upper deck seems incredibly too high to enjoy the game. Some seating sections in the upper deck require your having to go both up AND down a set of stairs to find your seat. A former walkway has been filled in with three rows of seating. Doing so has created some navigational issues, in that fans may need to go up and then back down a small set of stairs just to move from one area to another. It is weird to see entire seating areas in the Club Level that are blocked off and covered up.
The upper deck also still has some audio issues. There are areas there where the sound is nearly inaudible. In addition, the lower deck still has some obstructed view seats. They do often go for quite low of a price but it is still incredible that a stadium built just one year prior to Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium has the severe design flaws that it does.
Many other parts of the seating bowl are just a bit weird here at FedExField. It opened with 80,000 seats. A few years later, the Redskins added many temporary and permanent seating areas to bring the total seating to over 91,000. Now the stadium is getting smaller, with many seats changed over to those standing-room-only areas and/or tarp-covered areas to bring the official capacity down.
The team has slowly been adding more of its extensive history into the stadium’s concourse wall along with making way for the new team name.
The team also has a Season Ticket Holders Wall Of Fame. Names of those who have been season ticket holders for 20 years or more are displayed on a monitor beside some images of current Redskins players.
Suburban Landover is not the most exciting neighborhood. FedExField sits in an area surrounded by parking lots. That kind of setting can be good for tailgating but often means the area is lacking a bit. It would be nice if there could be food, drink, and entertainment options located in the area, such as at Philadelphia’s Xfinity Live complex. I would love to see something similar, even if they are temporary, game-only, locations. Currently, fans who are not tailgate types have very few pregame options.
The closest thing really to the stadium are some newer housing developments.
Luckily Washington D.C. is close by. If you are arriving by Metro, pregame activities are best spent there. The Foggy Bottom neighborhood is a good option in D.C. as there are still plenty of restaurants to choose from. Burger Tap & Shake, Tonic at Quigley’s, Founding Farmers, and Beefsteak by Jose Andres seem like good options.
Georgetown is another great option The choices there will astound you, but Martin’s Tavern and Georgetown Cupcake will always be a good choice. A few of my favorites away from the GW/Foggy Bottom are Smith Commons, Doi Moi, and Bar Charley. A good suggestion is to stop by Bar Charley for some great craft cocktails and walk the few blocks over to Doi Moi to finish up with some great Asian small plates.
And did I mention you are right in the middle of Washington, D.C.? The number of attractions, museums, restaurants, and other sights is astounding. Spend some time pre or post-game seeing the many things around this great city.
The strength of the team has usually been their loyal fan, but lately, even those loyal fans are starting to turn away from the team. The fans do deserve better than the often lackluster team and stadium. Non-rivalry games have far less excitement than when the team is playing an NFC East opponent. The best time to go to FedExField is a nationally televised game against the Eagles, Cowboys, or Giants, but expect to see many visiting team fans.
FedExField’s location close to the Washington Beltway is not usually seen as a positive. This suburban location compounds the traffic nightmares in the area, especially on Monday night games. The stadium is located far from public transportation and with limited parking alternatives, the stadium can be hard to get to. The opening of the Washington Metro’s Morgan Boulevard Station in 2004 gave attendees at least one public transportation option. It is slightly less than one mile away, and there are decent walkways between the station and stadium. Sure, it could be closer, but at least it is an option. The Largo Town Center Station, also on the same Blue line as the Morgan Boulevard Station, is another walkable option but is far less convenient.
Just make sure you are aware of closing times for the Metro if attending a night game. The Metro system has experienced many problems and incidents in recent months, so it is not nearly as reliable as it should be. The team has no control of this, but it sure does not help the fans who want to find alternate means to attend the games at FedExField.
There is plenty of parking available around the stadium. The problem has been that it is pricey and has been controlled strictly by the team. There are a few non-approved lots to the north of the stadium around Brightseat Road, but that is an exception. If all else fails a visitor can head to the official Gray Lot and get a space for $55 cash.
In the last few years, the team made major strides in improving the operations of their lots. Fans are required to enter their designated lots from specific access roads. The idea was to allow for a more efficient entry and exit from the stadium. It seems to have worked.
Return on Investment 4
The cost of an NFL game is expensive. There is no way around it. You do get a good deal, because of the high entertainment value and the extremely high level of competition. The one positive aspect of a bad team is the huge amount of cheap tickets that are available.
The parking is costly at FedExField and you may not be able to find good options around that cost.
The team has one of the few marching bands in the NFL. Make sure to catch them perform before the game. The group started in 1937.
The cheerleaders also put on a good show. The group was second in the NFL to the Pittsburgh Steelers in having cheerleaders (the Steelers have since abandoned the cheerleading idea). Originally called the Redskinettes, they have cheered for the team since 1962.
FedExField is a purely functional stadium in a less than desirable location. The team is also in a transition phase that could go in many directions. Ultimately the fan experience is better than it looks on the surface but is still far from ideal in the modern NFL.