Sunday afternoon at the dome. The “Kroenke sucks” chants are filling the air accompanied by the screaming KA-KAWs of an excited and hungry fan base. Football was back in the Lou and my inner fan couldn’t help myself from being nostalgic and fired up in my own right.
We’re all a kid from somewhere and my “somewhere” just so happened to be St. Louis. A town that may fly under the radar as far as market size goes, but one thing is evident any time you attend a sporting event. This city shows up for its teams.
There were 1.5 million people at the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup parade yesterday.— Complete Hockey News (@CompleteHkyNews) June 16, 2019
St. Louis has a metro population of 2.8 million. pic.twitter.com/mx7DqpUczp
People in the city of St. Louis once thought pro football returning to the newly nicknamed “Battle Dome” was a pipe dream. But thanks to Vince McMahon and the XFL, that dream became a reality again. Fans packed into parking lots tailgating with the same excitement as when Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk performed in this city. And then some more.
The energy was there. The excitement was there. All the Battlehawks had to do was defend their home turf. And defend it they did. They got on top of the visiting New York Guardians early thanks to a punishing run from STL’s first draft pick, Christine Michael (I knew he’d get going eventually). From that point on, only 2 minutes into the game, the 29,544 fans in attendance spent more time on their feet than in the seats. That’s also including halftime. And I don’t think anyone seemed to mind.
Touchdown Battlehawks 6-0 pic.twitter.com/DS8Pn9pdXl— Marcus Hampton (@TheHalfAfrican) February 23, 2020
As the game rolled on it seemed as if the Battlehawks association was intent on firmly planting themselves into the hearts of St. Louis fans for a long time to come. They certainly hit all the right notes at least. The players arrived off of the bus donned in Blues jerseys with pyrotechnics firing out of the top. The in-stadium music was heavy on the Nelly. The Cardinals, the patron saints of the 314, were backing the hometown squad. But what the Battlehawks did is the biggest step into winning the hearts of these fans. They won. And in convincing fashion. Highlighted by having a few style points tacked on because every single time they got fancy, the dice roll came up St. Louis.
Aside from giving up a garbage time touchdown, the Battlehawks did exactly what they set out to do. They took control of the hype train and delivered for a city that was yearning for something to take over their Sundays once again. The proof is in the numbers. The crowd in the Battle Dome was the largest in the XFL so far this season with an eye-popping 29,544 announced live to the delight of those in attendance. And there have already been hush-hush rumors of the upper bowl being open for next week’s tilt with the Seattle Dragons, who own the second largest attendance of the year.
To recap, St. Louis’s debut with the XFL was an unbelievable success. They brought out Torry Holt to get the crowd fired up. The rally towels were flying. Grown men were running around in bird costumes. Stan Kroenke pinatas filled with whiskey shooters being smashed with steel chairs. Complete and utter madness was ensuing throughout. And the inner biased fan in me couldn’t help but smile as a longtime dream had come true.
But as the honeymoon weekend of XFL in the Lou finally winds down, some questions can still be asked. Will those types of gaudy attendance numbers hold up? Can this team stay atop the East and be battling for a championship in Houston? Only time will tell. But as someone who attended the game let me tell you, this team is good enough, and this city fell in love with them on Sunday afternoon.
Just maybe next time they bring more beer for the thirsty tailgaters outside.
Battlehawks fans have drank all the beer at the Budweiser tailgate. I’m not kidding. All of the beer is gone an hour before kickoff.— Marcus Hampton (@TheHalfAfrican) February 23, 2020
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