For my 2nd game – it was short trip 40 miles down from Baltimore to DC for the season’s Monday Night opener.
Before I headed to DC – I took a guided tour of Oriole Park. It was a small tour of 10 people and we got to see a lot of really interesting things. Stadium tours are great and pretty cheap.
The train ride down was only 35 minutes. I arrived at beautiful and historic Union Station at around 12:30. It was a beautiful day and I spent the afternoon walking around one of the best cities in the country to walk around in. I spent about an hour and a half in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, then grabbed an Uber around 5 pm to head to the stadium.
FedEx Field is located in suburban Maryland, outside of D.C. in the town of Landover.
Not terribly convenient and pure hell to get to on game day, especially for a Monday night game and even more so on opening day. Despite giving myself what I thought was ample time – traffic was insane and the ride took close to 90 minutes. I got to find out more about the Uber drivers married life and extra marital affairs than I cared to know. Since traffic was at a standstill, I had to be dropped off about a half mile from the gate.
The stadium is surrounded by a sea of parking lots and an endless line of vehicles coming from every direction, but the attendants are really helpful and friendly and steered me in the right direction where I was able to make my way past a sea of drunken tailgaters and to the gates.
FedEx Field was built in 1997 (originally named Jack Kent Cooke stadium) as a replacement for their former home, RFK Stadium – and is showing a lot of it’s age. No doubt that I’ve been spoiled by the personality and charm of baseball parks – Football stadiums are an entirely different animal. FedEx is a big concrete structure without any real sense of personality. Fans here aren’t looking for ‘charm’ they want game action! There were a huge number of enthusiastic Redskin fans opening day – but also a large representation of Steeler fans as well given their huge fan base.
Just like at M&T yesterday – there wasn’t a lot of interesting things to see walking around the stadium – just a lot of concessions stands, bathrooms and swarms of fans to navigate around – so I headed over to my seat to take in the field views and wait for opening kickoff. Again like at M&T – once in your seat, you feel more a sense of being ‘trapped’ unlike at baseball. No doubt this is typical of an NFL game where there are just so many damn people – but once I was settled in, I didn’t notice. Folks I was sitting by were really talkative and friendly – and really enthusiastic about the play on the field. They have high hopes this year for their skins led by QB Kirk Cousins.
There were a couple of near fights including one between the man on my left and the woman on my right. The change from a beer purchase was being passed along the aisle and the man accused her of ‘palming’ one of his singles! Some nasty, vulgar names and threats were exchanged – mostly by her (with me in the middle!) but nothing happened.
Food wise, again such terrible options compared to Nationals Park – basic stadium fare – chicken fingers, dogs, etc. although they did have a Johnny Rockets and a Ben’s Chili Bowl. Beer choices were nothing spectacular either.
The Skins marching band and the playing of Hail to the Redskins after every score is a tradition at Redskins games since 1938. There has also been a lot of discussion in recent years about changing the team’s controversial name, especially with the heightened sensitivity that comes with playing in our nation’s capital.
Around mid-way through the 3rd quarter I made my exit. It was the only way I’d have a prayer of getting back to the Baltimore Amtrak station on time to get the last train – or otherwise sleep in the station like a hobo.
I called an Uber to come get me, but since FedEx Field doesn’t allow them to come within a mile of the gate, I had to try and find the agreed meeting spot somewhere in a sea of cars in a dark parking lot. It was like a needle in a frigging haystack. Several calls and texts back and forth and I still couldn’t find him. With my phone battery now at 3%, I was suddenly faced with a far worse proposition than sleeping in the Baltimore train station – I may end up sleeping in the FedEx field parking lot. Finally, down to 1% , I saw him flashing his headlights.
I was able to beat the traffic out of the lot and make it back to Baltimore and to my train with time to kill. An exciting way to end the trip. I will be in bed late tonight, but at least I’ll be in my own bed.
Fans – C – Plenty of aggression between my neighboring fans. Most were enthusiastic and supportive of their Skins despite the blowout
Features – D – Nothing really remarkable about this place. Very weathered, not really clean. Completely lacking any ‘personality’
Location – D – Out in the sticks of Landover Md. Horrible traffic. No good mass transit options. Nothing to do in the area
Food – C – Basic stadium fare
Game – C – Home team blown out by a much better team. Not a great way to start the season. Nice pre-game energy given it was the season opener and a Monday night game
Overall Experience – D – Getting to the stadium sucked. Getting out of it and back to my hotel was a real stressful experience. In between was nothing too special