Henry DuVall and his wife waited 17 years to get Washington Redskins season tickets but decided after searching nearly two hours for a parking spot Sunday at Redskins Stadium that they'll never go back.
Hamid Esmailpour got a free ticket to Sunday's game but had to shell out $215 to get his car back after it was towed while he was in the stadium.
And Darrian Burns never saw the game because he drove around so long looking for a parking space that his friends, who had his ticket, entered the stadium without him.
Even a day after the Redskins' disappointing outing against the Dallas Cowboys, fans fumed about the ticketing and towing of cars that attended the long traffic delays and overflowing parking lots, testing the limits of their patience.
"I'm not planning to go back there. I've had it," said DuVall, communications director for the Council of Great City Schools in the District. DuVall said he left his home in Silver Spring at noon, got to Redskins Stadium in Seat Pleasant at 1 p.m. and didn't get a spot until 2:30 p.m.--and even then the spot was at US Airways Arena, a 15-minute walk away.
Many fans called Redskins headquarters in Ashburn to complain yesterday, including Mark Tonnesen, a season ticket holder from Woodbridge. He wondered why no radio announcements noted that lots were full, and why having a Red Lot parking pass didn't guarantee him a spot, and why parking attendants didn't direct drivers to the overflow lot at US Airways Arena until the game was in progress.
"To me it's just totally poor management at the top level," said Tonnesen, who said he circled the stadium repeatedly searching for a spot in a Red Lot before he persuaded an attendant to let him park in the Blue Lot. "I really feel they're clueless. When they close a lot, the attendants should tell people where to go and not just disappear."
Esmailpour, of Silver Spring, said he was so frustrated by the traffic that he parked his car in the private lot of a nearby business.
After the game, his car was gone. When he called the towing company, he was told he had to pay $190 to get the car. When he arrived to claim it yesterday morning, he said, the company tacked on an extra $25 because the car had been there overnight.
Esmailpour said the whole experience was frustrating. "Everything was expensive. Six dollars for a beer. Hot dogs cost five dollars. And then I had to pay for my car," he said. "I might come again, but next time I'm taking the Metro."
Carole Kaye, an account executive at The Washington Post, said she emerged at game's end to find that her new Volkswagen Beetle had been towed about 15 feet from its original spot in the Blue Lot, with the trunk open and scratches to the paint.
"It was like I was in the Twilight Zone," Kaye said. "They said they moved it because a bus had to get out. If anything, they should have towed the bus."
A spokesman for the towing service, which works with Redskins Stadium on a regular basis, said it was just following directions from Redskins officials and police officers.
Many fans who reported no problems parking said they left for the stadium at 10 a.m. or earlier. Deanna Apperson, 31, arrived early to her seat on the club level, where patrons enjoyed waiter service for the first time.
"We had no problems parking," she said, as her son Keith, 11, munched on a hot dog. "The waiter service is good because you don't have to get up and miss the action."
Anita Chauhan-Mohindroo, 35, got there early enough to enjoy the free live music outside the stadium, courtesy of new owner Daniel M. Snyder.
"The music's great because it gets you in the mood to scream and yell," she said, as the funk band Boogie Hawg played its set.
Some of the 5,480 fans who took Metro--which offered a $2 shuttle service to the stadium--said they had a smooth ride.
"We had no problems at all," said Tracy Davis, 33. "We knew it would be bad, which is why we took the Metro in the first place."