We’re three weeks into the XFL’s inaugural season, and most of the country is still trying to figure out how they feel about it. Even the most casual football fan has undoubtedly monitored the league’s progress, at least peripherally, and has maybe even caught a few quarters of a game on TV.
But let me say this very clearly: If you haven’t been to a game yet, you need to.
I share that having just attended my first Seattle Dragons game last Saturday. I went as a fan rather than media in order to fully embrace the XFL experience.
Let’s start with the football itself. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall level of play as well as the XFL’s rule innovations. The new kickoff, the running clock and the absence of PATs are a nice change of pace at a minimum, if not an overall improvement compared to the NFL.
The players in the league range from former NFLers and fringe NFLers to college standouts at a minimum. There’s a speed and physicality to each game that checks a crucial box when going through your own eye test.
The biggest deficiency league wide, and especially with the Dragons, is quarterback play. There aren’t 32 franchise quarterbacks in the world, let alone eight extra to play in the XFL. That’s why the first three weeks have been dominated by defense while offenses, passing games in particular, are clearly a step behind.
That alone shouldn’t deter anyone from attending a game. I compare it to the early days of an NFL training camp, where a defense usually has a leg up on the offense out of the gate. There’s enough coaching experience and acumen in the XFL to make necessary adjustments.
In Seattle, there’s an added bonus of enjoying a gameday at CenturyLink Field. Despite a 1-2 start, the Dragons are off to a booming start from a business perspective. The team is leading the league in TV ratings and more than 50,000 fans have attended the first two games combined.
“We are excited about the support we've gotten so far, and this is just the beginning,” team president Ryan Gustafson told NBC Sports Northwest. “We knew the novelty of our first game ever would draw interest, but to have over 22,000 in attendance a week later shows how loyal the fans of Seattle really are. Gameday is just different in Seattle - in Seattle, we're loud and proud, and win or lose, we will continue to do everything we can to create a world-class experience for our fans.”
Gustafson urged that this is just the beginning for the Dragons. The team is actively working to make consistent improvements to the gameday experience as it receives feedback from fans and finds out what does and doesn’t work.
Here are some other notable draws that should entice you to attending one of the Dragons final three games this season. Your next opportunity is Sunday March 15 against the L.A. Wildcats.
- The Dragons have leaned into their "bringing the fire" mantra. That begins with the lighting of a cauldron akin to the Seahawks 12th man flag. A local legend lights the cauldron prior to kickoff for each game. Steve Largent and Brock Huard are the two who have done so thus far.
- The team gave away 25,000 orange towels at the first game and continue to urge fans to bring those and waive in key moments. Due to the demand, the team has ordered more towels and will sell them at the pro shop for only $5. Potentially doing another giveaway is on the table as well, but nothing is set in stone just yet.
- Affordability is one of the main selling points. Season tickets start at only $20 per ticket, and tickets for a single game start at only $24. The team also has group tickets starting at only $18 for friends/family outings, youth sports organizations, companies, or any other groups. Given the exorbitant prices for Seahawks tickets, and to a lesser degree the Sounders, the cost alone should make Dragons games a draw for any football fan.
- In addition to the modest price of tickets, the Dragons have focused on ensuring other aspects of gameday are affordable. Parking for season ticket members is only $20 per game for the CenturyLink Field garage or north lot.
- There are some food and drink deals as well, notably a set of $20 value packages. You’ll also be able to find unique concession items with Dragon-related themes.
The moral of the story is that Dragons games are enticing for everyone from the diehard who can’t get enough football to the casual fan who is looking for fun and affordable weekend plans. Take your family or go with your friends and enjoy a few beers. Regardless, I promise you won’t regret going to a game. I know I didn’t.