The Washington Redskins were able to manufacture everything but the sunrise.
Dawn broke blue--Detroit Lions blue, that is--over nearly 800 fans who turned out at FedEx Field yesterday for an impromptu slumber party hosted by Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder.
They had come all through the night. Redskins fans with blankets and sleeping bags. Fans with lawn chairs and coolers of soda. Fans in wool socks and long underwear.
They had expected to be waiting outside in the rain and the cold for a chance to buy tickets for the NFC playoff game on Saturday against the Detroit Lions.
Instead, Snyder invited them inside to wait out the night in the luxurious club level lounge at the stadium in Landover.
Tickets went on sale at 7 a.m. and within several hours, the 5,000 that had been reserved for sale to the general public had been sold. The Redskins announced late yesterday that an additional 1,000 tickets also would be available through TicketMaster. Those tickets are for the club level.
Dennis Jones, 26, of the District, was near the front of the line. He had been at the stadium since Monday night. But until 6 a.m. yesterday--when team officials ushered the waiting ticket-buyers outside into the cold--Jones had been staying warm with other fans.
"It was terrific," Jones said. "We had four-star accommodations. They provided for us 100 percent. It was the greatest experience I've ever had waiting to buy tickets."
And he would know. Jones has waited as long as three days for tickets twice before--in 1996 when the Washington Bullets were playing the Chicago Bulls and in 1994 for a Guns and Roses concert. Never, Jones said, has he had it so good.
Dwayne Glenn, 14, and his mother, Dawn Christman, of Capitol Heights, spent the evening playing cards together. Christman, who was buying tickets for her son's birthday, said the night was an experience to remember.
"It was surprising to me that there were no brawls or anything," she said. "Everyone got along together."
Christman said she drove to the stadium last night expecting to have to camp outside.
"I would like to think we would have stuck it out," she said, shivering in the early morning air after standing outside for just about 20 mintues.
John Maroon, a spokesman for the Redskins, said team officials wanted to spare fans from the elements and to throw a party. The Redskins haven't had a playoff appearance since 1993.
"Everyone is really excited," Maroon said of the crowd. "These people are really die-hards, and it's a great time to be a Redskins fan."
Temperatures hovered around 40 degrees at dawn. But the wind chill made it seem like about 15 degrees. Winds gusted up to 39 miles per hour. And it was cold. Bone-chilling cold.
Fans who showed up through the night to buy tickets were tagged with numbered blue identification bracelets and invited to hang out on the club level. They were told not to leave the stadium or they would lose their place.
Some slept through the night in leather chairs. Others played cards. The team opened the concession stands and sold hot dogs and sodas for $1.
"I wouldn't have been here if I had to wait outside," said George Kee, 39, a financial analyst from Bowie. Kee was wrapped in a bedspread outside waiting for the ticket windows to open.
"I was one of those people who always thought that people who did this were crazy," Kee said.
But hey, the Redskins threw him an easy pass, and he took it.
CAPTION: Bruce Sellers, right, naps while holding his son Branden, 19 months. Sellers and friend Kenya Saleh, left, arrived at FedEx Field at 1:30 a.m. for tickets.