Stadium

How Do Teams Fare in New Stadiums?

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.

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Sam Neumann

Sam Neumann is a freelance writer and lifelong Vikings apologist. He has seen his share of Vikings-related heartbreak, but believes we are united by the hope that one day that norse ship will come in. Sam is the author of three books, including the New York Times Bestseller Memoirs of a Gas Station. He lives in Denver, Colorado, and has had it with Broncos fans. You can follow him on twitter @NeumSamN.

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4 Comments

  1. You mention indoor stadiums in passing. What about teams moving indoors to new digs after playing outdoors? (I know — readers are NEVER satisfied. Ha)

  2. New home stadiums have no impact on road games. Your statistical analysis should be for home games only. As I recall the Cowboys lost several when the moved into the Jerry-dome.

  3. A good story, if for no other reason than to dispel the myth that a new stadium somehow helps a team to win. I see this myth expressed a lot, especially in regard to the Vikings since they are about to move into US Bank stadium.

    The reality is that a new stadium is just an expensive toy for fans. For the most part, it doesn’t really affect the team. The only part which affects the team is the turf itself, since that is what the players play on.

  4. May be a waste of time, may be interesting but….

    I had the same question as Bleeds P&G about moving outdoors to indoors. I was also wondering about whether previous field was a “temp” field (ala TCF Bank) or a previous permanent field because from what I’ve heard about “temp” field arrangements they generally work against the home team (e.g. Vikings are first team in history to host a home playoff game at a temp field).

    To the extent you’re motivated to re-run the data, I also think Karl’s point above may be the best of all. Road games shouldn’t play a factor.

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