Please welcome Dave Murphy, GGW’s newest contributor, who also writes the Imagine, DC blog. Dave lives in Laurel and will be bringing us insight on urbanism from the regions northeast of DC (and anywhere else he has something to say).
Monday Night Football, the NFL’s major prime time network (and basic cable) broadcast has come to FedEx Field once again. Even more exciting than the normal hyperbole of a MNF game is the fact that the 6-2 Redskins are playing the 5-2 Pittsburgh Steelers, a game that lots of people are actually going to care about for a change. Redskins Nation is buzzing.
If you commute on the eastern half of the Beltway, however, your afternoon drive will probably be much slower, as FedEx Field opens the lots four hours before the 9 pm kickoff and tailgaters will likely be jamming exits 15, 16, and 17 during the evening rush, as happens for every weeknight home game at FedEx Field. But Metro is pulling their weight, just like they did for the last Monday Night game at FedEx, the 2006 season opener. The system will be staying open until 1 a.m., with additional personnel at Morgan Boulevard and Largo stations.
Considering that FedEx Field opened in 1997 but Morgan Boulevard and Largo stations did not open until 2004, Metro use during mega-events at the stadium does not make headlines like Nationals Park did when it opened atop a Green Line station this spring. People noticed that Nationals games were not choking the Metro system, especially when Nationals games were getting high attendance at the beginning of the season (interest naturally waned by the middle of their dismal 59-102 season).
Of course, FedEx Field has over twice the capacity of Nationals Park. Then again, FedEx Field is suburban, fed by highways, and surrounded by acres of surface parking. Where Navy Yard station is a block from Nats Park, FedEx Field lies almost a mile from Morgan Boulevard. Even if one were to envision a future Purple Line station at FedEx Field, it wouldn’t be much closer, and would likely augment rather than replace Morgan Boulevard as the primary stop for the venue. In any event, an awful lot of people would have to give up driving before Metro started to have major issues on game day, even when games impacted the weekday rush hour. For now, the Blue Line is a viable alternative to driving. I’ll take walking a four fifths of a mile for free from the Metro over walking two fifths of a mile from a $30 parking space. And it never hurts to take a car off the Beltway, while you’re at it.