Last season, the Washington Redskins debuted a fan pavilion beneath the scoreboard in the west end zone at FedEx Field, an open-air space for anyone with a ticket for any seat in the stadium to congregate, eat and drink while still keeping an eye on the game. The reaction to the renovation from fans was so positive, according to Redskins Senior Vice President of Stadium Operations and Guest Experience Chris Bloyer, that the team will install a similar space beneath the scoreboard in the east end zone this summer.
At Wednesday’s open house for media members and several hundred season ticket members, which included the announcement that Food Network star and Flavortown Mayor Guy Fieri’s chicken tenders are coming to FedEx Field, Bloyer said construction on the Bud Light Party Pavilion will be completed by Washington’s home opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 15.
The renovation, a new season ticket member benefits program called Redskins Gold and, let’s be honest, Fieri’s chicken tenders, are all part of the team’s efforts to make FedEx Field a more attractive destination after Washington ranked last in the NFL in percentage of stadium capacity filled last season.
The new space in the east end zone will open three hours before kickoff, feature a 90-foot bar, a stage for live bands and two outdoor suites. It required the removal of roughly 300 seats. The Redskins Marching Band occupied the seats that were removed to make room for the pavilion in the west end zone last summer before band members were relocated above the scoreboard at the other end of the field.
Now, about those chicken tenders. Chicken Guy, the never-frozen chicken tender and fries concept from Fieri and Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl, opened its first location at Disney World in September 2018 and a second outpost at a Miami mall earlier this year. Chicken Guy offers 22 — yes, 22 — sauces, including Fieri’s trademark Donkey Sauce, Cumin Lime Mojo, Nashville Hot Honey and Sweet Sriracha BBQ. (This reporter tried seven sauces and would rank them like so: Nashville Hot Honey, Peri Peri, Creamy Buffalo, Donkey Sauce, Honey Mustard, Sweet Sriracha BBQ and Cumin Lime Mojo.)
Other new concessions for 2019 include funnel cake fries at the stadium’s Boardwalk Fries locations and a variety of sandwiches from Firehouse Subs on the main concourse. Alexandria-based Territory Foods will offer several gluten-, dairy- and refined sugar-free items, and Ben’s Chili Bowl, a staple at the stadium for years, is adding a veggie dog and vegan chili to its menu.
Carts throughout the stadium will feature three new grilled cheese sandwiches, including one with smoked beef brisket. Hoffman’s is introducing a three-blend burger with rib, brisket and chuck, while Johnny Rockets on the club level will serve a stadium-only burger topped with bacon, avocado, ranch and an onion ring on a brioche roll. Paisano’s returns for another season and will be sold by mobile vendors in the stands on the lower level for the first time.
Jace Gonnerman, the beverage director at Meridian Pint, Smoke & Barrel and Brookland Pint, is back as the Redskins’ craft beer consultant and will help decide which local breweries and beers to feature throughout the season. Gonnerman said the craft beer selection through the first two regular season home games will include Port City Optimal Wit, Union Divine IPA, Elder Pine Pilsner, Flying Dog Thunderpeel and Devils Backbone Vienna Lager. Devils Backbone also will offer its Redskins-branded ATTR gold lager.
Redskins suite holders will enjoy several additional benefits this season, including P.F. Chang’s and five other new catering packages, a digital ordering option and the ability to remain in their suites for up to two hours after every game. Redskins Gold benefits, which apply to all season ticket members, include dedicated fast lanes at select concession stands, food and merchandise discounts and a subscription to NFL Game Pass and RedZone.
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