FedExField (originally Jack Kent Cooke Stadium) is a football stadium located in an unincorporated area near the Capital Beltway (I-495) in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States, near the site of the old Capital Centre (later called USAir Arena). FedExField is the home of the Washington Redskins football team. With seating for 82,000, FedEx Field is now the second largest venue in the NFL in terms of regular capacity. Up until 2010, FedEx Field held 91,704 patrons and was the largest venue in the league.
FedEx Field was built as a replacement for the Redskins' prior venue, RFK Stadium. In 1994, Jack Kent Cooke sought to build a new stadium on the grounds adjacent to Laurel Park Racecourse along Whiskey Bottom and Brock Bridge roads. Lack of parking facilities and support prompted a second site selection.
The stadium opened in 1997 as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, in honor of the recently deceased owner of the team, and the stadium site was known as Raljon. Before the stadium was built, the Wilson Farm was there. The name "Raljon" is a portmanteau of Jack Kent Cooke's sons' first names - "Ralph" and "John." Notably, Cooke was even able to register Raljon with the United States Postal Service as a legal alternate address for the 20785 zip code of Landover, Maryland, in which the stadium is located, and went to some lengths to require media to use Raljon in datelines from the stadium.
A special exit, Exit 16 (Arena Drive), was built from Interstate 495, the Capital Beltway.
After the team and stadium were purchased by Daniel Snyder, the naming rights were sold to the FedEx corporation in November 1999 for an average of $7.6 million per year; FedEx Field replaced Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C., as the home of the Redskins. FedEx Field has not had a football season in which the stadium failed to sell out its non-premium tickets. Even though it's the NFL's largest stadium, the waiting list for Redskins season tickets has reached over 30 years. Although the Redskins have never sold out the entire stadium, the team has not had a game blacked out on local television since 1972 (when home game broadcasts were banned outright) because it does not count "premium club level seating" when calculating sellouts (their sellout streak dates to 1965, eight years before the new blackout rules were implemented).
For the past six years at FedEx Field, Redskins fans have set the regular-season home paid attendance record. In 2005, the team drew a record 716,998 fans overall. The December 30, 2007, 27–6 win against the Dallas Cowboys was the most watched game in Redskins history, with 90,910 fans in the stands to see Washington clinch a playoff spot.
The August 28, 2004 BCA Classic between the Virginia Tech Hokies and USC Trojans attracted 91,665 spectators.
The stadium has five levels - the Lower Level, the Club Level, the Lower and Upper Suite Levels, and the Upper Level. The Lower, Club, and Upper Levels are all named after important figures of the Redskins, NFL, and Washington, D.C. area. The Lower Level is officially named "George Preston Marshall Lower Level", The Club is named "Joe Gibbs Club Level, and The Upper Level is called "Pete Rozelle Upper Level." The Suite Levels have over 200 suite, lounge, and Owner's Club luxury boxes.
FedEx Field hosts the annual Prince George's Classic college football game, which is a game usually between two historically black universities. It has hosted several other college football games as well, including the 1998 game between the University of Notre Dame and the United States Naval Academy, as well as the 2004 Black Coaches Association Classic between the University of Southern California Trojans and Virginia Tech. The stadium has hosted numerous other events as well, including many big-time concerts.
FedEx Field is not well known as a soccer venue, as D.C. United of Major League Soccer elected to remain at RFK Stadium after the new stadium's opening. As Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, it hosted four preliminary matches and one quarterfinal doubleheader in the 1999 Women's World Cup. During the July 2005 World Series of Football, D.C. United hosted Chelsea F.C. there; the stadium did not sell out, but the 31,473 spectators represented D.C. United's third-highest ever home attendance. On August 9, 2009, D.C. United hosted another international friendly against Real Madrid at FedEx Field. On July 30, 2011, Manchester United ended its 2011 Summer Tour with a 2-1 win over F.C. Barcelona at FedEx Field in front of nearly 82,000 fans. This represented the largest crowd for the sport in D.C.-area history.
Other notable events include:
- October 23, 1997 - The Rolling Stones performed during their Bridges To Babylon Tour.
- November 14, 1998 - Notre Dame defeated Navy 30–0.
- July 1, 1999 - The United States Women's National Soccer Team defeated the German Women's National Team 3–2 in the FIFA Women's World Cup 1999 quarterfinals.
- January 8, 2000 - The Washington Redskins defeated the Detroit Lions 27–13 in the first and, as of 2010, only NFL playoff game at FedExField.
- May 28, 2000 - The stadium played host to the HFStival.
- October 4, 2002 - The Rolling Stones returned to perform during their Licks Tour.
- December 29, 2002 - The Washington Redskins defeated the rival Dallas Cowboys, 20–14, in Darrell Green's final game. The game also broke a 10-game losing streak to the Cowboys.
- July 18, 2003 - Metallica, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Deftones & Mudvayne performed during The 2003 Summer Sanitarium Tour.
- September 13, 2003 - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band performed during The Rising Tour. (Sold out)
- August 28, 2004 - USC defeated Virginia Tech in the BCA Classic 24–13, before a sellout crowd of 91,665.
- November 5, 2006 - Redskins defeated the Cowboys in, perhaps, the greatest finish in FedExField history, with Nick Novak's 47 yard field goal with :00 on the game clock.
- December 2, 2007 - Commemorative game in memory of Sean Taylor. The Redskins lost to Bills (17–16).
- August 1, 2009 - Paul McCartney performed during his Summer Live '09 Tour.
- September 29, 2009 - U2 performed during their 360° Tour, with Muse as their opening act.
- September 6, 2010 - Boise State defeated Virginia Tech 33-30, before a crowd of 86,587.
- November 20, 2010 - Penn State defeated Indiana 41-24, before a crowd of 78,790.
- July 30, 2011 - Manchester United F.C. defeated FC Barcelona 2-1, before a crowd of 81,807, part of 2011 World Football Challenge.
Criticisms and potential replacement
Many fans feel FedEx Field does not compare favorably with RFK Stadium. Sports Illustrated's rankings of "NFL Fan Value Experience" rated FedEx Field 28th out of 32 NFL stadiums. In January 2007, The Washington Post reported that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder was meeting with Washington, D.C., officials about building a new stadium in order to return the team to the District.
In the 2011 offseason, nearly 10,000 seats were removed from the upper deck to reduce capacity to 82,000, making FedEx Field the second largest venue in the NFL.
Notes and references