Amid COVID-19 restrictions, Old Glory DC seeks alternatives to stadium experience

Businesses, including Loudoun County, Virginia’s only professional sports franchise, have had to seek alternative ways to connect with customers during the pandemic.

For Sunday’s Major League Rugby home opener at Segra Field in Leesburg, Old Glory DC has sold all 1,000 tickets it can under Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions for gatherings.

However, team co-owner Chris Dunlavey has been looking for other ways to meet demand.

“Trying to conduct a professional sports season during COVID has obviously made it challenging for us to be able to get our fans into the usual in-stadium viewing experience,” Dunlavey told WTOP. “And it certainly means we have to be a little more creative about how we make connections with our fans.”

Saturday’s home opener against Rugby ATL will be available on NBC Sports Washington, and will be livestreamed on The Rugby Network.

“That’s a free app that anybody can download, where you can watch all Major League Rugby games, livestreamed,” Dunlavey said.

While tailgating isn’t allowed this season, Dunlavey knows some prefer to watch rugby with friends, so the team has coordinated with local restaurants and bars that will broadcast the game.

“Some are set up to do viewing parties of our games, where groups of fans can eat together, socially distanced and in a safe environment,” said Dunlavey. “If they’re not able to be in the stadium, they can view our games and cheer for us together.”

Glory Days Grill will be showing Old Glory DC games at all of its Virginia, Maryland and D.C. locations.

Dunlavey said the relationship with the chain has remained strong throughout the pandemic: “We were able to have food delivered to our players while they were quarantining when they first arrived in town.”

The team is looking to solidify its connections with Loudoun County businesses, particularly those which might share customers.

“One of those is Loudoun Brewing Company, which is local to Segra Field,” said Dunlavey. The brewing company in historic Leesburg will be showing the match in two of its outdoor areas.

“There is a distant but very affectionate relationship between beer and rugby,” Dunlavey joked.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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