- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Washington Redskins said they have no immediate plans to move their fan appreciation day away from Redskin Park after a larger-than-expected crowd caused traffic snarls around the Ashburn, Va., facility.

A record 28,000 fans attended the event Saturday, with many waiting more than 90 minutes to enter the park and others failing to get in at all.

“We’ll re-evaluate it as we do after every event,” Redskins spokesman Zack Bolno said. “Moving it to [FedEx Field] is an option we may explore, but we have some time and a long way before we have to make a decision about the next one.”

Traffic on Saturday was particularly heavy on Waxpool Road and the mile-long stretch of Loudoun County Parkway leading to Redskin Park. Gates opened at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, but cars were lined up before dawn. Festivities included an intrasquad scrimmage and autograph signings from Redskins players.

The previous record crowd for fan appreciation day at Redskin Park was 25,000 in 2004. Last year, the team invited fans to a scrimmage with the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, and the team hosted the Ravens in a scrimmage at FedEx Field in 2006.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office had six deputies directing traffic near Redskin Park. Police spokesman Lt. Col. Donald Gibson said the office met with Redskins officials before the event and estimated there would be a crowd between 10,000 and 15,000. He stressed the Redskins were not at fault.

“Traffic was terrible,” Gibson said. “It was a nightmare. There were just too many cars for the roadway. I think the officers did the best they could, but [cars] were just coming so fast.”

Based on registrations made online, the team distributed passes for about 14,000 fans, but about twice as many came. The passes were recommended but not mandatory for admission.

Loudoun County zoning administrator Melinda Artman said the Redskins’ permit with the county for fan appreciation day does not place restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend.

Bolno said e-mail correspondence from fans to the team has been largely positive, with only about 10 writing in to complain.

“It was a tremendous and entertaining crowd,” Bolno said. “We’re very appreciative of the support we have from Redskins fans. Our players, coaches and staff certainly fed off that energy.”