What’s it like to attend an XFL game? Is it worth the trip?
I recently had the opportunity to attend the XFL opener in Washington, DC, with my brother. It was about a four-hour drive from where we live to Audi Field, home of the Defenders. The hotel accommodations that we made were for the Hampton Inn-Washington, DC Navy Yard, and that location was perfect. Situated less than half a mile from the stadium, we were able to walk to Audi Field.
We arrived early for the fan fest part of the event. There was a live band and some activities for kids, including making a shield. There was supposed to be a section of food trucks, but since it was not immediately in the fan fest area, we did not find it. It would have been nice if there had been some signage or a Defenders representative to ask about it. Still, the band was cool, and the energy from the fans was incredible.
One of the interesting things I noticed was the reception we received. We were wearing Dragons shirts and jerseys, which, of course, was the visiting team. We got a lot of “side-eye” glances and even heard a few shouts of “Dragons suck!” from the Defenders faithful. I thought this was incredible, especially since it was the first game of a new league in which these teams had never played one another before. The Defender fans were eager to defend their home turf.
The gates opened 90 minutes before game time. The security process was efficient and straightforward. Tickets to the game were in my phone’s digital wallet, so entrance in the event was painless. Upon entering the stadium, we noticed the extremely long line for the souvenir stand. Fans who exited the shop were changing into the jerseys they had purchased. Souvenir footballs commemorating the inaugural were another hot seller. All were sold out before we could get into the shop to browse! One of the most fun touches in the shop was the customization station for fans that wanted a specific name and number.
Audi Field seats about 20,000 people, meaning that every seat in the stadium is a good one. Our seats were on the Defenders side of the field in section 132. We were on the opposite end from where teams enter. When Seattle came through the tunnel, a loud chorus of boos rained down upon them. The game had not even started, and already the home team’s faithful made their presence felt.
The crowd erupted when DC entered.
The game itself was fantastic. Both teams made big plays; there were calls the fans hated and calls they loved. The first 10,000 fans received a replica shield to show their support for the Defenders. Fans shouted, “Shields Up!” when DC needed to make a big play. At a crucial moment late in the fourth quarter, the crowd was electric. The stadium pulsed with energy as DC jumped on a Dragons fumble to seal the victory.
After the game, our walk back to the hotel was met with a few more “Dragons suck!’” notifications from Defenders fans. One thing that was very exciting to see was how the fans began to peel off and patronize nearby restaurants. We passed several venues on the way back to the hotel, and each one was quickly filling up with Defenders fans.
All in all, the XFL fan experience is incredible. Audi Field is the perfect venue to watch a game, and access to the field is simple. DC having an excellent team is a nice bonus. I would wholeheartedly recommend attending an XFL game if possible. After all, it’s all for the love of football.