Tonight's football game between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys will be a clash of rivals on the field and a collision of forces on the freeways as many of the 90,000 fans mix with evening commuter traffic.
Team officials are urging ticket holders for the nationally televised game to be in their seats at FedEx Field at least an hour before the 9 p.m. kickoff. Police are asking motorists whose routes go near the stadium in Landover after 6 p.m. to be patient.
But there's only so much that can be done, said Lt. Bonnie Morris of the Maryland State Police. Asked which roads motorists might seek to avoid, Morris chuckled and replied, "The Beltway."
Redskins fans with season tickets can buy parking permits for lots close to the stadium -- those lots will open at 4 p.m. -- but others will have to use distant cash lots and rely on free shuttle buses to and from FedEx Field. Buses will also be available for fans who ride Metrorail and get off at the Landover or Addison Road-Seat Pleasant stations; those Metrobuses cost $5 round trip, to be paid upon arrival at the stadium.
This system has generated grumbling from some riders who say the buses become bogged down in traffic, leaving long lines waiting before and after a game.
For this season's home opener Sept. 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Stephen Gold of McLean said he took the Metro to Landover and twice waited an hour for a bus -- before and after the game. He said buses were getting stuck in traffic near the stadium. "You wanted to ask the Metro officials there, 'Didn't anybody think about the traffic?' " Gold said Friday.
For tonight's game, Redskins and Metro officials said ticket holders can avoid many of the pregame difficulties by arriving early. "Come early, and the problems seem to resolve themselves very quickly," said team spokesman Karl Swanson.
For those taking Metro, officials said the shuttle buses will begin leaving the Landover and Addison Road-Seat Pleasant stations at 5 p.m. In all, they said, 44 buses will serve the Landover station and 38 will serve Addison Road-Seat Pleasant.
The stadium's gates will open at 7 p.m.
After tonight's game, which could end long after midnight, the two Metro stations will remain open later than usual -- the last trains will depart Landover at 1:39 a.m. and Addison Road-Seat Pleasant at 1:30 a.m., officials said. Shuttle bus service ends about an hour after a game, according to Metro.
Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said that passengers will be able to get off at other stations throughout the system but that only the two stations serving the stadium will allow people to board that late.
For those driving to the game, police advised keeping an eye on electronic highway signs, which will guide them toward exits for the stadium.
FedEx Field, which replaced Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium as home of the Redskins, has been criticized by some for its remote location and scarcity of on-site parking spots.
Prince George's County officials are scrutinizing a recent expansion that put the stadium's capacity at 91,665. The officials point out that the FedEx Field site plan, which the county approved in 1996, authorized the team to have 22,001 on-site parking spaces and established a 4-to-1 ratio of seats to parking spaces.
County Council members say the Prince George's Department of Environmental Resources should not have granted the Redskins permission to add 5,181 seats without holding a hearing about the effect on parking.
Staff writers Ovetta Wiggins and Thomas Heath contributed to this report.