- The Washington Times - Monday, September 8, 2003

Metro made it clear to the National Football League yesterday that it expects to be paid for the extra subway service provided for last week’s NFL Kickoff Festival on the Mall.

“Please send a certified check in the amount of $57,000 made payable to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority,” Metro Assistant General Manager for Communications Leona Agouridis wrote in a letter. “The check must reach the authority no later than 5:00 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19, 2003.”

Metro said it provided “carefully developed” service levels based on the NFL’s projection that 200,000 people would turn out Thursday to see Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin and Good Charlotte.

The early-evening concert coincided with both rush hour and football fans going to FedEx Field in Landover for the Washington Redskins’ season opener.

Metro initially estimated its cost at $63,462 when it planned to run four extra hours of peak-level service, but scaled that back to just one hour because of lower-than-expected demand. It did keep the subway running an extra two hours, from midnight to 2 a.m., to accommodate Redskins fans getting home from the game.

There were 719,082 rail trips taken Thursday, the ninth-highest ridership day in the subway system’s history. During the two extra late hours, 14,260 people rode the trains.

The letter was sent to Tracy Perlman, director of NFL entertainment marketing in New York. A call to her was returned by NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, who repeated the league’s belief that the extra service was unnecessary.

“We will continue to discuss the issue with the proper authorities down there,” Mr. McCarthy said.

The cash-strapped transit agency needs every dollar it can get. Metro already increased fares about 9 percent in June, and faces a projected $1.3 billion budget shortfall over the next six years.

Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein suggested NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue bring a check when he attends a Sept. 17 dinner at the National Building Museum, just across the street from Metro headquarters.

Miss Farbstein said she would “be happy to pick it up.”

“It can’t get more convenient than that,” she said.

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