The Washington Redskins will add approximately 2,000 seats to FedEx Field next season, team president Stephen Baldacci said yesterday. The expansion of the stadium's seating capacity will enable the Redskins to sell season tickets to a number of people at the top of the club's waiting list, he said.
"We would anticipate a good number of people coming off the waiting list," Baldacci said before yesterday's regular season finale against the Miami Dolphins.
The Redskins are planning at least $10 million worth of improvements to the stadium next season, including the new seats and the addition of four escalators running from the ground level to the upper deck, according to Baldacci. The team did about $10 million in stadium improvements this season under first-year owner Daniel M. Snyder, club officials said.
According to Baldacci, approximately 1,200 seats will be added above the two tunnels leading from the field to the locker rooms. And 740 seats will be added in the ongoing expansion of the loge level, Baldacci said. Baldacci also left open the possibility of even more seats being added next season in unspecified locations.
The current seating capacity of the stadium is listed at 80,116. Today's game was the Redskins' 254th consecutive home sellout, a string that began in the 1966 season, when the team played at RFK Stadium. Including postseason games, the sellout streak is 266 games. Sellouts are based on general tickets sold, not premium seats. The team's waiting list for season tickets includes about 45,000 people with requests for approximately 120,000 tickets, Baldacci said, and an average of about 1.5 percent of season ticket holders fail to renew their tickets annually.
The new escalators will cost at least $5 million, Redskins officials said. Next season's stadium improvements also will include the installation of a 3,000-linear-foot wind screen around the top of the stadium that will include the FedEx Field logo. Baldacci said the Redskins also will try to continue to improve the game-day traffic flow outside the stadium, and will initiate some sort of midweek entertainment on the club level.
This season's improvements included replacing metal bars in the upper deck with clear plastic to improve visibility, upgrading the stadium's speaker system, adding a new level of seats to the loge, and making structural and procedural improvements to the parking system following early-season problems.
Second Draft Pick Ensured
The Redskins secured the second pick in April's college draft when the New Orleans Saints lost at Carolina yesterday. The Redskins expect the Cleveland Browns to take Florida State wide receiver Peter Warrick with the top selection and hope to use the second choice on Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington. The Redskins also have two other first-round selections, the Panthers' and their own. The Redskins believe Carolina's pick will be the 11th overall. . . .
One of the Redskins' rewards for winning the NFC East will be a difficult schedule next season. In addition to their eight games against NFC East opponents, the Redskins will play home games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Panthers and Baltimore Ravens. They'll play road games against the St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers. . . .
The Redskins placed wide receiver Albert Connell on their inactive list yesterday because of Connell's ailing left shoulder. James Francis started at outside linebacker in place of Greg Jones, who was suffering from back spasms.