new stadiums
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Back in February, Austin did a post examining how NFL teams fared in their first games in a new stadium. I thought I’d take it a step further and look season-long records for the first year in a new home.

I took any team that moved into a new stadium in the past 20 years, and compared their record in that first season to the record from the previous year. Do teams generally improve or regress after moving into new digs? Well…neither, exactly.

Notes:

  • We’re not counting any expansion teams. This is only about established teams who moved from one stadium to another.
  • All Stadiums referred to by their names at the time of opening. Many have changed, some a few times.
  • All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

So, of the 17 teams who moved into a new building since 1997, here’s how they fared compared to the previous year:

TeamYearStadiumRecordPrevious Year Record
Washington Redskins1997FedExField8-7-19-7
Baltimore Ravens1998Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards6-106-9-1
Tennessee Titans1999Adelphia Coliseum 13-38-8
Cincinnati Bengals2000Paul Brown Stadium4-124-12
Pittsburgh Steelers2001Heinz Field13-39-7
Denver Broncos2001INVESCO Field at Mile High8-811-5
Seattle Seahawks2002Seahawks Stadium7-99-7
Detroit Lions2002Ford Field3-132-14
New England Patriots2002Gillette Stadium9-711-5
Chicago Bears2003Soldier Field7-94-12
Philadelphia Eagles2003Lincoln Financial Field12-412-4
Arizona Cardinals2006Cardinals Stadium5-115-11
Indianapolis Colts2008Lucas Oil Stadium12-413-3
Dallas Cowboys2009Cowboys Stadium11-59-7
New York Jets2010New Meadowlands Stadium11-59-7
New York Giants2010New Meadowlands Stadium10-68-8
San Francisco 49ers2014Levi's Stadium8-812-4

Takeaways

So…nothing too revelatory. Unsurprisingly, there isn’t usually a huge difference in season records before and after the move; more often than not, teams don’t change drastically from one year to the next (although there are clear exceptions). Though in the last 20 years, teams do show slight improvements when moving into a new stadium. A few specific observations:

  • Of the 17 teams studied, eight finished with a better record than the previous year, six finished with a worse record, and three finished with the same record.
  • The combined record for the first year in a new stadium is 147-124-1, compared to 141-130-1 the year before. Strikingly similar.
  • On average, teams gained 0.35 wins by moving into a new stadium.

Conclusion

Moving into a new stadium has basically zero statistical impact on a team’s record. Riveting stuff, I know. If anything, this simply serves to rule out any trend in one way or another; the most interesting thing about this analysis is how close the records are from the previous year to the inaugural year in a stadium. Only a six-win difference over 17 years—a very slight bump, but nothing statistically significant.

So, what does this mean for the Vikings’ first year in U.S. Bank Stadium? Nothing really, other than they don’t need to worry about a precipitous drop due to new stadium gremlins or something. Really, the shift to playing games indoors will likely be a bigger factor than simply being in new building. For another post, and another time.