As you have probably heard us mention a few billion times, Mike and I went to the opening of Segra Field on Friday night for Loudoun United. Below is a recap of our experience.
After picking up Mike at the Serone Estates, and after a few beers and wings to open up our stomachs a bit, we shipped off to the anticipated opening of Segra Field. It is a relatively pleasant drive as you near the stadium, traffic cones lining the roads, giant construction vehicles abandoned for centuries. That’s the great thing about Northern Virginia road construction, there appears to never be an actual deadline. The contracts must end just with a “?” as far as the anticipated date of completion goes.
As we passed Leesburg Airport, Mike mentioned to me that he had considered getting a pilots license once. I can speak for the rest of the planet when I say I’m glad he gave up that dream of flight.
We followed the trail of cars and slowly lurched forward, directed by Loudoun County’s finest and also by what appeared to be Loudoun County’s weirdest: those arm-waving guys that tell you where to go at concert/sports venues. What a job. Every car knows the direction to go, oftentimes there is literally only one way to go, and yet there is a man in a bright orange vest standing there wildly waving his arms, urging you to yes, indeed, go THAT way.
Funny enough, just as we were about to turn into one area of the parking lot, we were loudly informed to go down a different winding road. This went completely against the orange arm-wavy guy. There didn’t appear to be much order or sense in the reasoning, just a desire to create as much confusion as possible.
I don’t like pressure parking. That situation where there is a long line behind you and you have to just pick a spot and you MUST get it right the first time. I much prefer to find the most isolated grouping of empty spaces possible and ease my way in. But alas, in a stadium situation, the pressure is high, and as my front grill crunched into the end of the space I knew this would have to be good enough.
We set off on the long trek to the field, a small hazy dot in the distance. We had been told days earlier to enter through the East Entrance Media Gate because we had a small recording device for the podcast, which apparently means we both automatically earn Journalism degrees. The first issue we realized that while we both had taken Compass 101 in school, we had sadly slept through it entirely, and had no idea how to judge which side of the stadium was EAST. I politely asked a nearby attendant where the media entrance was, and he was so taken aback that he was expected to know that sort of information that he just kind of shuddered and walked away.
After minutes of walking and sweating, we found a small fold up table that was covered in lanyards so it appeared we were in the right place. The guy manning the check-in asked us what we needed, and I fumbled with my phone to show the email I had received from a member of Loudoun United.
“Did you talk to Kate?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Um no, I think it was a Chris..?”
This seemed to be the right name, as he handed us two blank press passes to write our names on. I considered for a moment just writing “Michael Wilbon” on mine, but my nerves got the better of me.
We were in. With press passes. We were MEDIA.
The first thing we wanted to test was just how far this newfound power could get us, so we approached the security guard standing at the field rope and immediately held our passes aloft. He squinted for a moment, probably thinking to himself: man, they just let anyone become “media” these days. He sighed, raised the velvet rope, and Mike and I stepped onto the turf.
I will say, the field is pretty beautiful. Pristine, new, and us two boneheads were right there rubbing elbows with professional camera guys and people in suits.
After some more field pics, it was time to get down to the reason we were there in the first place: the food. Segra Field had around 7 or 8 food trucks lined up around the stadium for fans to peruse. We picked the first one, Grubbers, and placed our order. Mike was to sample the cheese dog, I was to dip into some chicken tenders and “chippers”. What we didn’t know was by placing that order we were settling into 45 minutes of standing and waiting for the food truck employees to remember how to make both of those extremely complicated dishes.
Whenever a group of people is waiting for slow service there is a mixture of amusement and impatience. Everyone is in the same boat, and yet people handle it differently. There are the people who decide that all of this must clearly be a mistake so they continuously go up to the window and say things like “How’s that hot dog for Ashley coming along? We’ve been waiting a while” as if the chef will throw away everything else they were doing and get you, Ashley, your hot dog.
My personal favorite in these situations is the “angry impatient guy”. There is one in every bunch, and we were not disappointed. This middle-aged polo-wearing fella had ordered his food and was NOT going to stand for any wait. He constantly scoffed and shook his head, his body vibrating with rage every time someone else received their goods. At one point he walked up and asked to exchange the water bottles he was holding because they had “gone warm from all the waiting”. What a guy.
We finally received our food and moved off to the side to stand and eat, because in all of the design of the stadium someone forgot to include somewhere to sit beyond the game seats.
I was under a lot of pressure when I picked up my food at the window, so I didn’t put my usual three gallons of ketchup on, but it wouldn’t have mattered much anyway. The tenders weren’t good, and the chips were run-of-the-mill. Mike took a few bites of his cheese dog and opened his eyes wide in dismay. Grubbers, unfortunately, had missed the mark.
We were ready for Round Two with a different truck, but everything was packed. So we wandered, found another spot on the field to actually watch some of the game for once. We held up our flimsy piece of paper and yet again were granted access. I could sense stares from people in the crowd, likely thinking we were actually important people. This is obviously the furthest from the truth, and Mike and I, in fact, bring no value to the world.
The crowd was electric. The game experience cannot be knocked, it was packed and loud and for sure would be fun if we were there for that. Instead, our food saga must continue, so we continued our journey, searching for another option to quench our ravenous hunger.
We trekked and trekked, getting weaker by the second. We then finally stumbled across a tent that was relatively empty. It was a dessert vendor, which is always a good option. I still can’t fully remember their name, something that is very evident on the podcast episode as I called this place five different things, but I THINK it was called something like “Aunt P’s Sweets & Treats”.
I ordered the Brownie ice cream cookie, Mike with the standard Chocolate Chip Cookie+ice cream.
I ended up with the better choice in the end, as Mike dealt with a salty crumbly mess that had peach-flavored ice cream in the middle. Mine was much more straightforward. Brownie plus vanilla ice cream, even Grubbers couldn’t screw that up. The great thing about ice cream sandwiches is when they get all over your hands and face and entire body.
The last thing we wanted to do before we left for the night, was to try to redeem the drink voucher that came with the tickets we bought, but the drink tent was moving at a glacial pace.
There were multiple lines jutting out at all angles, with no real indication that anyone was actually coming away with a drink in their hand. The lines were moving so slow that one beer vendor guy stood in between two of the lines, selling beer to the people waiting. THAT guy is a salesman.
After waiting for 20 minutes, and getting flashbacks to our Grubbers experience, Mike turned to me and we both nodded our heads in agreement that we were ready to get the hell out of there.
We had dreamed of tasting five or six different cuisines while at the field, putting together copious notes and reviews, and instead we ate half a cheese dog and an ice cream sandwich and called it a night.
We were defeated, but all-in-all it had been a good experience. It is a new stadium, it is going to have its hiccups and speed bumps. We’ll cut them some slack, plus there is always McDonalds Drive-Thru on the way home.
One day the DC Crossover will come back, ready to dine another day.