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Courtesy of the Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins Score Major Fan Experience Upgrades for the 2019-2020 Season

Watching DC’s football team play their division rival in a picturesque suite setting at FedExField really put how sweet the stadium is in perspective. There’s an endless amount of mouth-watering food to choose from, local brews that hit close to home such as Port City Optimal Wit and Devils Backbone’s #ATTR the brewing company’s exclusive golden ale made just for the Redskins and seriously good views no matter where you’re seated. Whether you go to Redskins games all the time or you’re looking forward to your first game-day experience at FedExField, get ready to be blown away by the impressive 2019-2020 season offerings that the Washington Redskins home stadium has to offer.

The custom upgrades to FedExField are largely based on fan feedback, from heightened tailgate experiences to exclusive access to once hidden parts of the stadium. How does the home of the Redskins cater to DC’s fan base all the way in Landover, MD? To improve, at the end of each season, the Redskins organization holds a series of focus groups to hear about attendee experiences, which point them in the right direction for what exactly fans want. On Tap got an exclusive deep-dive tour of FedExField from Chris Bloyer, senior vice president of operations and guest experience for the Washington Redskins, who proudly went in-depth on exciting offerings for fans in the new season.

OT: Let’s talk about Redskins Gold, the new season ticket member club. What exclusive access does this offer fans during their game-day experience?
Chris Bloyer: Redskins Gold, our new comprehensive membership program, was designed to give our fans unprecedented experiences, amenities and benefits all year long. As a member, you will receive exclusive access from the minute you enter FedExField to the time you leave the game, including member-only entrances and concession lines, upgraded parking, preferred concession and shop pricing, as well as priority access to events, tickets and rewards throughout the year.

OT: What about the burgundy and gold themed Safeway RedZone Tailgating Lot. Is that new? How do you think it’s elevated the tailgating experience for fans so far?
CB: The RedZone Tailgating Lot is not new, but Safeway became the presenting sponsor in November 2018 as part of their exclusive grocery store partnership with the Redskins. The cool thing about the lot is that it opens one hour before all of the other lots and features a private entrance and exit, extra-large parking spaces for tailgating, live music, games, alumni and cheerleader appearances and more. It’s become a very popular amenity for fans who want to make a day of it and start celebrating at FedExField early.

OT: When listening to fans requests, how do you decide what experiences and additions to include every season?
CB: We try to address as many requests as we can, while also making sure it’s an investment that will impact a large percentage of fans. For some requests, we are able to action quickly. For example, there was a lot of interest from fans to attend training camp in Richmond this year as a group without driving, so we set up a free bus trip for Gold Members. We received great feedback from fans about that experience and it certainly added to the excitement as we entered the season. Other requests can take a bit longer to implement and we are continuously matching against some of our longer-term priorities.

OT: What are the Redskins providing for their fans’ game-day experiences that separates them from other stadiums in the NFL?
CB: Our incredible fan base will always be at the heart of what makes a Washington Redskins game special. This year in particular, we have given the fans new communal spaces to celebrate their favorite team together at the field, a wider variety of food and beverage options to commemorate the occasion, a greater selection of fan gear to show their team pride and a broader range of ticket options to ensure the experience is available to a range of people. It’s a combination of all these things that makes the experience special.

OT: What 2019-2020 addition to the game-day experience are you most excited about and proud of?
CB: The addition of more communal spaces. From the expansion and improvements to the Bud Light Party Pavilion, the Merrill Touchdown Club or the Ciroc Lounge in the West Loge, fans are really enjoying the opportunity to meet friends, listen to live entertainment and experience great moments they can share long after the end of the game.

OT: What prompted the idea to renovate the East Pavilion? 
CB: The idea for this renovation ultimately came from last year’s successful West Pavilion renovation. With the east side, we made it four times larger with live entertainment during pregame and halftime, featuring the Washington area’s largest open-air, live sporting venue/stadium bar so that fans can enjoy the action on the field while immersed in a social environment. We hope it’s a place for fans to interact with one another and experience a camaraderie around their shared love of football and the Redskins. The space has been popular with fans so far this season and we expect that to continue. 

OT: It’s incredible that FedExField has all these new food offerings such as Guy Fieri’s Chicken Guy. What are some other new in-stadium places that you think fans will be truly excited about?
CB: We are very excited to offer a variety of new food vendors this year. Guy Fieri’s Chicken Guy has certainly been a fan favorite and fans love the exclusive access, as this is only the second location in the U.S. and the first outside of Florida. The 49ers will become the second stadium to offer this fantastic and delicious food concept. Another big hit has been Paisano’s Pizza on the main concourse. Additionally, we’ve added Territory Foods, P.F. Changs, Firehouse Subs and have expanded our healthy food options.  We’ve also continued the expansion of our craft brew options and for a second season; the Redskins’ own #ATTR Ale from Virginia’s Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company. It’s the first beer in team history brewed just for the Redskins and our fans really enjoy it.

OT: What’s your favorite aspect of managing the operations and coordinating guest experience for the Redskins? 
CB: The opportunity to help our fans enjoy their time with us. From the ushers to the police to the concessions stands, our staff is largely comprised of Redskins fans who, like me, have some of their fondest memories while attending Redskins games. It’s our responsibility and privilege to do everything we can to ensure our fans get the great experience they deserve.    

Enjoy all the new upgrades at the next Redskins home game on Sunday, October 6 at 1 p.m. against the New England Patriots. Tickets start at $110. Read more about FedExField and the Washington Redskins at www.redskins.com.

FedExField: 1600 Fedex Way, Landover, MD; www.redskins.com

Jon Bostic // Photos - courtesy of Redskins

Redskins’ Hopes Lie in Newcomers

Last season didn’t exactly go as planned for the Washington Redskins, and the team labored to a 7-9 season. The outcome led to some changes in the off-season including the draft day additions of quarterback Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State and star end Montez Sweat out of Mississippi State, and both are expected to play prominent roles this fall.

Many around the league were shocked when Haskins fell to Washington at No. 15 and though not fast, he’s enormously sized and can throw – with many comparing him to Ben Roethlisberger. Coach Jay Gruden has yet to commit to a starting quarterback but has said Haskins will be given equal opportunity to winning the job along with Case Keenum and longtime Redskin Colt McCoy, who is coming off a broken leg.

While McCoy has been on the team for four years and knows Gruden’s system, he doesn’t have the arm for making the big throw down field. Many fans would rather see the 31-year-old Keenum – who threw for 3,890 yards and 18 touchdowns for Denver last season – as QB1 until Haskins is truly ready to step in. Playing for the University of Houston, Keenum set NCAA records for total passing yards, touchdowns and completions.

Other additions include signing Landon Collins away from division rivals the New York Giants in a $84 million deal, inking offensive lineman Corey Robinson and bringing in Jon Bostic, the team’s projected starting middle linebacker.

“I think we are a good group of young guys and I can see we’re already growing every day,” Bostic says. “We have a lot of coaches around here who have been around ball for a long time. Getting their knowledge and seeing the guys work hard, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Over a six-year career, Bostic has spent time with the Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers, recording 313 tackles and 5.5 sacks. He’s coming off one of his better years, starting 14 of 16 games with a career-high 2.5 sacks last season in Pittsburgh. Wearing No. 53, Bostic is enjoying his time in camp and likes what he sees from the squad.

“It’s a work in progress, but that’s what training camp is for,” he says. “We’re all getting used to playing with each other and getting better every day. We’re excited to get going.”

The linebacker core includes returnees Shaun Dion Hamilton and Josh Harvey-Clemons, five-year NFL vet Marquis Flowers, and rookies Cole Holcomb and BJ Blunt.

“We have goals as a unit and want to be one of the top defenses in the league, but we understand it’s not going to just be given to us,” Bostic continues. “We have to work hard during and after practice. We have a lot of potential on paper, but potential isn’t going to lead us to W’s. It’s the work that will lead us to those W’s.”

Disappointing news came out of camp early on when it was announced that the offensive line may be without perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. In late July, he had yet to report due to a contract dispute, which would leave Ereck Flowers to man left tackle with rookie Wes Martin switching to left guard. The hope is that Williams will arrive soon to shore up what could be a strong point for the team.

Adrian Peterson returned to the all-star form of his early years as a new running back with the team, rushing for 1,042 yards on 251 attempts and registering seven TDs. Derrius Guice, who missed his entire rookie year with an injury, and Chris Thompson, now in his seventh year with Washington, join him in the backfield.

Questions remain about the team’s next wide receiver, with Jamison Crowder off to the Jets and a returning crew that saw no one player score more than two touchdowns all season. Two draftees in Ohio State’s Terry McLaurin and NC State’s Kelvin Harmon will see some action and receiver Josh Doctson will be relied on to do more than make the occasional big grab.

“Just seeing what they are accomplishing on the offensive side of the ball – it’s been fun,” Bostic says. “Coach Gruden is an offensive-minded coach and he always wants to beat the defense. We’re all competitive and out there trying to beat the offense every day. We’re all getting each other going in different ways and that will keep us strong.”

If whoever wins the quarterback job gets into a groove, Peterson has a repeat performance, the youngsters make some noise and the playmakers on the defense do their job, the Redskins could win 10 games and be a big player come playoff time.

“Our goal is to win the division and take care of business,” Bostic says.

Don’t miss the Washington Redskins’ first home game on Thursday, August 15 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Learn more about their upcoming season at www.redskins.com.

FedExField: 1600 Fedex Way, Landover, MD; 301-276-6000; www.redskins.com

Photo: Courtesy of the Washington Redskins

Shooting the Gap: Linebackers Look to Raise Redskins’ Defensive Level

The Washington Redskins’ 2017 season wasn’t without setbacks. The squad dealt with numerous injuries on both offense and defense, as the team’s expectations for the NFL Playoffs dwindled by the time winter blew through FedExField. However, the team never quit as they traded wins and losses down the stretch of the season with a persistent roster.

A key player during the home stretch was Zach Brown, who despite missing the last three games of the season with foot and leg injuries, led the team in tackles with 127 – a mark good for ninth in the league. With Brown and fellow linebacker Mason Foster returning to man the middle of the field, a defense that ranked last against the run can only improve, if health permits.

“[We’ll] take it to the next level,” Brown says. “Last year was really our first as a defense, so now it’s like, let’s keep it going and step it up. We have a lot of good young players, so they have to stay disciplined and we all have to do our job.”

Both Brown and Foster signed extensions in the offseason to stay with the Redskins. Before the ink was dry on Foster’s deal, he was already recruiting Brown to ensure their pairing would last longer than the five games they shared the field last season.

“I love this team and all these guys are brothers,” Foster says. “I love playing football, and when your year is cut short like that – especially when I was set up to have a big year – it’s tough. Part of it is a blessing in disguise, because I was able to sit there and watch the game and get in shape.”

Both players kept roots in Virginia this offseason, with Foster rehabbing his torn shoulder and Brown settling down with his family in McLean. Though they had different offseason experiences, both were ready for camp and eager to improve a defense not yet matching their standard for greatness.

“Guys are playing hard, but it was little things here and there,” Foster continues. “Being up in the box and being able to see it from a coach’s perspective, you see the little angles you take and the little things you bring to the table every day. It definitely helped me bring my game to another level.”

Though the pair is integral to the Redskins postseason goals, the hope is for their load to be lessened by the team’s top draft pick, interior defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne, who joins former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen – Washington’s first pick in last year’s draft.

“With the young guys coming in and making it more competitive, everybody is in better shape and coming in strong,” Brown says. “Health is going to be really important, but everyone behind you has to stay ready too. If we can stay healthy, we can go a long way.”

As for the veterans, Brown and Foster acknowledge an undeniable chemistry between them on the field.

“He was a big reason I wanted to come back here,” Foster says. “I knew what me and him could do for the whole year. We see the game the same way, and it allows me to come downhill. We know who’s going to have an opportunity to take a chance. Sometimes I want to jump a route and he’ll cover for me, and vice versa. Stuff like that became natural for us.”

Though the defense – who finished with the 12th-most yards allowed in the league – is set to improve, the old saying “a good offense is the best defense” may still apply to the Redskins. To bolster the offensive unit, the team added veteran playmakers in running back Adrian Peterson and QB Alex Smith, replacing Kirk Cousins.

As inside linebackers, both Brown and Foster are essentially the quarterbacks of the defense, and each has had a chance to match wits with the new starting signal caller.

“He’s what I thought he was,” Brown says. “He’s a great player and he’s going to surprise a lot of people. We have a lot of receivers that will go get the ball for Alex, and he’s really upped the game for those guys. He’s a great leader, and he has high expectations for the offense.”

Despite the 7-9 finish to last season, neither of these players are lacking in confidence. They’re ready to prove the naysayers wrong.

“I think we’re in the mix,” Foster says. “The sky’s the limit, but we have to go out and execute.”

Brown echoes his teammate’s sentiments about the 2018 season.

“We feel like we can be one of the best in the NFL if we bring it together.”

Catch the Washington Redskins’ first home game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, September 16. Follow the team on Twitter at @Redskins and check out their 2018 schedule at www.redskins.com.

FedExField: 1600 Fedex Way, Landover, MD; 301-276-6000; www.redskins.com