With their lease at FedEx Field set to expire in 2027, the Redskins continue to explore potential sites for a new stadium in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. In the meantime, the team says it’s dedicated to making its oft-criticized home in Landover a more attractive Sunday destination for fans, beyond the surest means to draw a crowd by putting a winning product on the field.
“We’re obviously talking about a new stadium,” Chris Bloyer, the Redskins’ senior vice president of operations and guest experience said at Wednesday’s ‘Taste of FedEx Field’ event for media members and a few hundred season ticket members, during which the team showcased new concession offerings and facility upgrades for the coming season. “We have to make this the best it can be for our fans as long as we’re here, so we’ll continue to invest in it until the last day. We’re always looking at ways we can make enhancements.”
Among the enhancements for 2018: A fan pavilion in the lower concourse, discounts on food for season ticket members, dozens of new menu items and a more extensive craft beer list.
The fan pavilion beneath the scoreboard in the west end zone, which the team mentioned in a letter to season ticket members last month, will offer a new space for fans to gather before, during and after games. Open to anyone with a ticket for any seat in the stadium, the pavilion will feature breakfast sandwiches, a Bloody Mary bar, roughly 30 TVs showing every game and a clear view of the field.
“If you’ve been to other stadiums around the country, there’s always some place where you can walk around and see the field, where you can get a view of what’s going on without being in your seat,” Bloyer said. “We don’t have that here. We’re trying to find ways to open up the building a little bit and that was a great location to do it.”
The Redskins Marching Band, which occupied the seats that were removed to make room for the pavilion, will return to the club level above the scoreboard in the west end zone. If the pavilion proves popular with fans, Bloyer and Jake Bye, who in May was named the Redskins’ senior vice president of consumer sales and marketing, both suggested that a similar retrofitting could be done beneath the scoreboard in the other end zone next offseason.
“There are season ticket members sitting in some of those seats that we’d have to reposition, so we’d have to evaluate that process and make sure there’s an opportunity for them to meet or improve their seat location,” Bye said. “Depending on the reaction to what we’re doing this year, I fully anticipate we’ll have more enhancements like that in the future.”
While there have been no other major structural changes to FedEx Field this offseason, the stadium’s capacity, which the Redskins recently said was roughly 82,000, will be less than it was last year. Bye said the team, which acknowledged last month that there is no longer a season ticket waiting list, made a strategic decision to take a “significant amount” of obstructed view lower level seats off the market. Fans with existing season tickets in certain sections with obstructed views, sometimes referred to as “cave seats,” were given the option to relocate.
“They’re seats that we’re not making available for sale this year that we have in the past,” said Bye, who spent the previous 12 seasons with the Rams. “They’re obstructed view and they’re not great locations. We identified a lot of seats in those areas were being resold or had a high volume of visiting team fans, so when you take that out of the mix, that really helps preserve the value of our tickets for our season ticket holders. It should also help speed of service and congestion on the concourse levels. … Our job is not only to sell tickets, but we want to sell them to Redskins fans and give the Redskins fans a compelling reason to attend. We’re asking a lot of our fans on Sunday, to come spend the day with us for four or five hours, so it better be a great experience.”
New concessions that will be featured throughout the stadium this season include mini meatball bombers with gravy or marinara sauce, smoked chicken wings with barbecue or Buffalo sauce, steak and cheese egg rolls with sriracha ketchup and a PBLT, which is a crispy pork belly, lettuce and tomato jam sandwich with black pepper aioli on sourdough bread.
There are also three new types of nachos — a “West Coast Nacho” with pulled chicken, avocado, tomato, corn, black beans, salsa, jalapeños and cilantro; a “DMV Nacho” with Ben’s Chili Bowl chili and half-smoked sausage, chipotle cheese sauce, crispy onions and chopped cherry peppers; and an “East Coast Nacho” with shredded beer can beef, chili, cheese sauce, caramelized onions and chopped cherry peppers. Paisano’s, a new official partner of the team, will offer pizza, Greek salad and wings at stands on every level of the stadium.
Exclusive and new to the club level this season are the caprese salad; a Maryland crab grilled cheese featuring jumbo lump and special crab meat with American cheese and Old Bay lemon aioli on sourdough; barbecue chicken and waffles with homemade mumbo sauce and creamy slaw; and made-to-order cotton candy from Cotton Cravings, featuring flavors such as chocolate chip cookie dough, bubble gum and pink lemonade.
Levy Executive Chef Anthony Lacerda also described a couple of new “Wow” offerings — as in, ‘Wow, where’d you get that?’ or ‘Wow, good luck finishing that’ — that will be available to all fans. The DMV Super Burrito includes three pounds of beef, chicken and half-smoke rolled with Spanish rice, lettuce, tomato, avocado and black beans in a flour tortilla. “It’s enough to feed two people,” Lacerda said. “A really fun item.” The Pit Bull is a foot-long, all-beef hot dog topped with horseradish mustard sauce, pit beef and giardiniera.
For the first time, Redskins season ticket members will receive discounts ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent on all food items by scanning their mobile or paper tickets after ordering at any concession stand, where season ticket member prices will be displayed alongside regular prices. Bye noted that the bar code for season tickets will be altered when they’re resold on the secondary market and the buyer will not be eligible for the season ticket member discount on concessions.
“The discount is only good for season ticket members who attend and use their bar code,” Bye said. “If you resell that ticket, the discount doesn’t travel with it. … We want to encourage Redskins fans to come to games, grab the home-field advantage back and fill the stadium with Burgundy and Gold.”
The season ticket member discount does not apply to beverages, including FedEx Field’s craft beer offerings, which will be expanded again this season. After introducing craft beer on every level of the stadium for the first time last year, Bloyer hired Jace Gonnerman as his craft beer consultant. Gonnerman, who remains the beverage director at Meridian Pint, Smoke & Barrel and Brookland Pint in the District, will help decide which local breweries and beers to feature.
Gonnerman showcased beers from local breweries D.C. Brau, Port City, RAR and Devils Backbone at Wednesday’s event but said his goal is to “keep things fresh” by rotating the offerings and featuring beers from a wider array of breweries throughout the season. Bloyer said at least four craft beers will be available in a designated spot on every level in the stadium this season for the first time.
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