I went to the New York Guardians' first game to see if the XFL is the future of football

Matt McGloin

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The XFL still has a long way to go before it proves itself a sustainable spring football league, but Week 1 went about as well as you could hope.

  • The New York Guardians played their first game in franchise history on Sunday as one of eight teams competing in the revamped XFL.
  • I decided to go check out the game at MetLife Stadium, taking in the sights and sounds of the first weekend of XFL action.
  • While MetLife Stadium was far from full, more than 17,000 fans showed up to support the Guardians, including families looking for a more cost-effective football experience, older fans looking for another excuse to tailgate, and those simply curious about the new league.
  • The XFL still has a long way to go before it proves itself a sustainable spring football league, but after one weekend, it was easy to see the appeal.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The New York Guardians played their first game in franchise history on Sunday, defeating the Tampa Bay Vipers 23-3 in Week 1 of the revamped XFL.

I decided to check out the Guardians' first game, out of a combination of curiosity and a desire to see an odd bit of history.

Playing at MetLife Stadium, which holds more than 80,000 people when hosting Giants games, it was tough to imagine the team ever filling up the arena, but the dedicated support of the fans in attendance was quite impressive.

Whether this version of the XFL ultimately makes it or eventually folds as so many spring leagues that have come before it, I will be able to say, "I was there."

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My journey began at Penn Station in New York City, just below Madison Square Garden.

My journey began at Penn Station in New York City, just below Madison Square Garden.

It's a trip thousands of New York football fans take every Sunday of the NFL season, a two-train trek ferrying supporters from Manhattan to MetLife Stadium.

It's a trip thousands of New York football fans take every Sunday of the NFL season, a two-train trek ferrying supporters from Manhattan to MetLife Stadium.

Roundtrip tickets to the Meadowlands cost $11 — not bad compared to how much parking can cost at a stadium.

Roundtrip tickets to the Meadowlands cost $11 — not bad compared to how much parking can cost at a stadium.

Tickets in hand, I was ready to catch some New York Guardians football.

Tickets in hand, I was ready to catch some New York Guardians football.

In past trips to MetLife Stadium, I'd taken one train to Secaucus and then changed over to another train for the Meadowlands. However, with fewer fans expected for the Guardians game, NJ Transit opted for buses for the second leg of the trip.

In past trips to MetLife Stadium, I'd taken one train to Secaucus and then changed over to another train for the Meadowlands. However, with fewer fans expected for the Guardians game, NJ Transit opted for buses for the second leg of the trip.

The buses were ready and waiting. Along with a crew of our fellow new Guardians fans, we filed on for the final leg of our journey.

The buses were ready and waiting. Along with a crew of our fellow new Guardians fans, we filed on for the final leg of our journey.

After a 30 minute trek, we arrived at MetLife Stadium.

After a 30 minute trek, we arrived at MetLife Stadium.

As we made our way off the bus, a particularly rowdy group of Guardians fans cheered our arrival while they waited in line by a porta-potty. Chants of "Let's go Guardians!" rang out.

As we made our way off the bus, a particularly rowdy group of Guardians fans cheered our arrival while they waited in line by a porta-potty. Chants of "Let's go Guardians!" rang out.

We had arrived a little late for the tailgate, but a quick perusal through Twitter made it clear that some fans were taking the pregame festivities seriously.

We had arrived a little late for the tailgate, but a quick perusal through Twitter made it clear that some fans were taking the pregame festivities seriously.

Best fans in the XFL? @xfl2020 @XFLGuardians #OnDuty @MalleoInHD pic.twitter.com/fSc32sV4ki

— Mike LaFiura III (@MichaelLaFiura) February 9, 2020

While I had received a press pass for the game, my friend, who had joined me for the game, stopped by the box office to pick up a ticket.

While I had received a press pass for the game, my friend, who had joined me for the game, stopped by the box office to pick up a ticket.

He got his seat in section 149 just behind one of the end zones for $30.

He got his seat in section 149 just behind one of the end zones for $30.

And with that, we made our way into the stadium. I was impressed with the line to get through the gate.

And with that, we made our way into the stadium. I was impressed with the line to get through the gate.

Around the concourse, it felt like any other football game, with fans in line for concessions and beer.

Around the concourse, it felt like any other football game, with fans in line for concessions and beer.

While tickets to get in were noticeably cheaper than an NFL game, fans still had to pay a premium for in-stadium snacks and beverages.

While tickets to get in were noticeably cheaper than an NFL game, fans still had to pay a premium for in-stadium snacks and beverages.

Arriving in our seats just in time for kickoff, we had a solid view of the field.

Arriving in our seats just in time for kickoff, we had a solid view of the field.

Tickets were only sold for the lower bowl of the stadium, and fans had packed into the sections behind each end zone, where tickets were the cheapest.

Tickets were only sold for the lower bowl of the stadium, and fans had packed into the sections behind each end zone, where tickets were the cheapest.

But looking towards the sections on the sides of the field, it was clear that there was still room for plenty more Guardians fans.

But looking towards the sections on the sides of the field, it was clear that there was still room for plenty more Guardians fans.

Announced attendance for the game was 17,634. With a capacity of more than 80,000, MetLife is a tough place to fill.

Announced attendance for the game was 17,634. With a capacity of more than 80,000, MetLife is a tough place to fill.

But around our seats, fans were pretty engaged with the action, standing and cheering for big plays and in anticipation of a third-down stop.

But around our seats, fans were pretty engaged with the action, standing and cheering for big plays and in anticipation of a third-down stop.

Quarterback Matt McGloin led the way for the Guardians on their first drive, diving into the end zone on a quarterback sneak.

Quarterback Matt McGloin led the way for the Guardians on their first drive, diving into the end zone on a quarterback sneak.

QB1 (@McGloinQB11) with the FIRST-EVER Guardians touchdown!

📺 @FOXTV
🖥 https://t.co/udq2TNuTQ8#OnDuty | #ForTheLoveOfFootball pic.twitter.com/3I5TBEnKbm

— New York Guardians (@XFLGuardians) February 9, 2020

Cheers rang through the crowd. It was the first touchdown in franchise history.

Cheers rang through the crowd. It was the first touchdown in franchise history.

At halftime, I decided to take another stroll around the stadium. Fans were decked out in a wide range of outfits, from their favorite NFL jerseys to Batman masks.

At halftime, I decided to take another stroll around the stadium. Fans were decked out in a wide range of outfits, from their favorite NFL jerseys to Batman masks.

The longest line I saw all day was for fans waiting to purchase Guardians merchandise.

The longest line I saw all day was for fans waiting to purchase Guardians merchandise.

Shirts were available for as little as $25, while hoodies went for $50. Hats and beanies were also a popular item around the stadium.

Shirts were available for as little as $25, while hoodies went for $50. Hats and beanies were also a popular item around the stadium.

Fans were encouraged to share photos of themselves cheering on the team with the hashtag #OnDuty.

Fans were encouraged to share photos of themselves cheering on the team with the hashtag #OnDuty.

GUARDIANS SENDING THE VIPERS HOME REAL QUICK!!! 14-0 #NYG #OnDuty pic.twitter.com/MDkzTO2C4t

— Anthony DePalma (@DePalmaAnthony1) February 9, 2020

Both in the stadium and online, it was clear that some fans were more than ready to embrace the new franchise as their own.

Both in the stadium and online, it was clear that some fans were more than ready to embrace the new franchise as their own.

While the line for merch was long, I was still surprised by how many fans were already sporting Guardians jerseys and hats. I was tempted to get one of the beanies for myself.

While the line for merch was long, I was still surprised by how many fans were already sporting Guardians jerseys and hats. I was tempted to get one of the beanies for myself.

Some fans went even further, with face paint and pointed jeers at the opposition.

Some fans went even further, with face paint and pointed jeers at the opposition.

But for the most part, everyone was just there to have a good time and enjoy some football.

But for the most part, everyone was just there to have a good time and enjoy some football.

The home team seemed to appreciate the support of the crowd.

The home team seemed to appreciate the support of the crowd.

After taking a 17-0 lead into halftime, the Guardians continued the rout through the second half. Jamar Summers put an exclamation point on the evening with an impressive fourth-quarter scoop-and-score.

After taking a 17-0 lead into halftime, the Guardians continued the rout through the second half. Jamar Summers put an exclamation point on the evening with an impressive fourth-quarter scoop-and-score.

STRIP ➡️ RUNBACK ➡️ SCORE @jsum you're a different breed 🔥

📺@FOXTV
🖥https://t.co/udq2TNuTQ8#OnDuty | #ForTheLoveOfFootball pic.twitter.com/FbKEB0H8JM

— New York Guardians (@XFLGuardians) February 9, 2020

With victory secured, we made our way out of MetLife.

With victory secured, we made our way out of MetLife.

On our way out, I noticed the flags that flew around the stadium. It was a small thing, but it made the team feel like more than another experiment in spring football.

On our way out, I noticed the flags that flew around the stadium. It was a small thing, but it made the team feel like more than another experiment in spring football.

We also saw some young fans posing for photos in front of the Guardians logo. Possibly the first generation of "lifelong" fans?

We also saw some young fans posing for photos in front of the Guardians logo. Possibly the first generation of "lifelong" fans?

The XFL still has plenty of work to do before it proves itself as a sustainable spring football league. Many have tried and failed at the endeavor before.

The XFL still has plenty of work to do before it proves itself as a sustainable spring football league. Many have tried and failed at the endeavor before.

Will the fans that made the trek out to MetLife continue to support the team as the season goes along? Time will tell.

Will the fans that made the trek out to MetLife continue to support the team as the season goes along? Time will tell.
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