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First Season in a New Stadium

This year, the Vikings will play their home games at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. The Metrodome is no longer, and Minnesota will play outdoors for two years before moving into a new indoor facility in 2016.

Should we expect the Vikings to struggle in 2014 in their temporary home? This scare piece noted that since the merger, only four teams (excluding those that moved cities) have played games in a temporary stadium for at least one season, and those teams saw an average decline of 5.8 wins. That’s a pretty misleading statistic, though. Consider:

  • One of the teams included was the 2005 Saints, who dropped from 8 to 3 wins as the team played “home” games in Baton Rouge, San Antonio, and uh, East Rutherford following Hurricane Katrina. I don’t think the 2005 Saints are an appropriate comparison for any team.
  • Another team was the 2002 Chicago Bears, who played in Champaign, Illinois while Soldier Field was being remodeled. The 2001 Bears were one of football’s great flukes: Chicago’s win probability added in the 4th quarter and overtime of games was one of the highest ever. Jim Miller and Shane Matthews led five 4th quarter comebacks. The Bears were 27th in yards per carry, allowed more net yards per pass than they gained, and yet went 13-3. Safety Mike Brown scored interception return touchdowns in overtime in consecutive weeks. And then the Bears promptly went 4-12 in 2002.
  • The 1973 Giants are another team used in the study. New York used to play in Yankee Stadium, which as you may know was primarily a baseball park. On September 30th, 1973, the stadium closed for renovations for two (baseball) years. Of course, that meant it would be closed for nearly three football years: the Giants played the rest of ’73 and all of 1974 at the Yale Bowl in Connecticut; in 1975, the Giants shared Shea Stadium with the Jets, just as the Yankees were doing with the Mets.

The Giants went 8-6 in 1972 and then 2-11-1 in 1973. ((That’s actually a bit misleading: New York went 1-1 at Yankee Stadium in 1973, 0-7 on the road, and 1-4 in New Haven. So if you really want to scare Vikings fans, and argue that the temporary status of the Yale Bowl really hurt the Giants, there you go.)) The other team noted in that study was the Seahawks, who went 9-7 in the Kingdome in 1999 and 6-10 at Husky Stadium.

One could also include the Boston Patriots team that straddled the merger era. Boston went 4-10 in 1968, the team’s final year in Fenway Park. Then the Patriots went 4-10 in Alumni Stadium (Boston College) in 1969, 2-12 in the first year of post-merger play at Harvard Stadium, and then 6-8 in 1971 at Foxboro Stadium (known as Schaefer Stadium at the time).

But I’m not too concerned with the idea of playing games in a temporary stadium. What about just teams that switched stadiums, regardless of reason? The table below shows all teams1 to switch stadiums in the last 50 years, and their records before and after the switch. For example, the Cowboys used to play in Texas Stadium, but moved to Cowboys Stadium (or Jerry’s World or AT&T Stadium, if you prefer) in 2009. In 2008, Dallas went 9-7, but in 2010, the Cowboys went 11-5.

YearTmOld StadiumNew StadiumN-1 RecN-1 Win%Yr N RecYr N Win%
2014SFOCandlestick ParkLevi's Stadium12-40.75?-??
2014MINHubert H. Humphrey MetrodomeTCF Bank Stadium5-10-10.344?-??
2010NYGThe MeadowlandsMetLife Stadium8-80.510-60.625
2010NYJThe MeadowlandsMetLife Stadium9-70.56311-50.688
2009DALTexas StadiumCowboys Stadium9-70.56311-50.688
2008INDRCA DomeLucas Oil Stadium13-30.81312-40.75
2006ARISun Devil StadiumUniversity of Phoenix Stadium5-110.3135-110.313
2003CHIMemorial Stadium (Champaign)Soldier Field (II)4-120.257-90.438
2003PHIVeterans StadiumLincoln Financial Field12-40.7512-40.75
2002CHISoldier Field (I)Memorial Stadium (Champaign)13-30.8134-120.25
2002DETPontiac SilverdomeFord Field2-140.1253-130.188
2002NWEFoxboro StadiumGillette Stadium11-50.6889-70.563
2002SEAHusky StadiumQwest Field9-70.5637-90.438
2001DENMile High StadiumInvesco Field at Mile High11-50.6888-80.5
2001PITThree Rivers StadiumHeinz Field9-70.56313-30.813
2000CINCinergy FieldPaul Brown Stadium4-120.254-120.25
2000SEASeattle KingdomeHusky Stadium9-70.5636-100.375
1999TENVanderbilt StadiumLP Field8-80.513-30.813
1998TENLiberty Bowl Memorial StadiumVanderbilt Stadium8-80.58-80.5
1998BALMemorial StadiumM&T Bank Stadium6-9-10.4066-100.375
1998TAMHoulihan's StadiumRaymond James Stadium10-60.6258-80.5
1997TENHouston AstrodomeLiberty Bowl Memorial Stadium8-80.58-80.5
1997WASRobert F. Kennedy Memorial StadiumFedEx Field9-70.5638-7-00.531
1996CARMemorial Stadium (Clemson)Bank of America Stadium7-90.43812-40.75
1995OAKLos Angeles Memorial ColiseumOakland-Alameda County Coliseum9-70.5638-80.5
1995STLAnaheim StadiumEdward Jones Dome4-120.257-90.438
1992ATLAtlanta-Fulton County StadiumGeorgia Dome10-60.6256-100.375
1988PHOBusch StadiumSun Devil Stadium7-80.4677-90.438
1987MIAOrange BowlDolphin Stadium8-80.58-70.533
1984INDMemorial StadiumRCA Dome7-90.4384-120.25
1984NYJShea StadiumThe Meadowlands7-90.4387-90.438
1982MINMetropolitan StadiumHubert H. Humphrey Metrodome7-90.4385-40.556
1982RAIOakland-Alameda County ColiseumLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum7-90.4388-10.889
1980RAMLos Angeles Memorial ColiseumAnaheim Stadium9-70.56311-50.688
1976NYGShea StadiumThe Meadowlands5-90.3573-110.214
1975DETTiger StadiumPontiac Silverdome7-70.57-70.5
1975NORTulane StadiumLouisiana Superdome5-90.3572-120.143
1975NYGYale BowlShea Stadium2-120.1435-90.357
1973BUFWar Memorial StadiumRalph Wilson Stadium4-9-10.3219-50.643
1973NYGYankee StadiumYale Bowl8-60.5712-11-00.179
1972KANKansas City Municipal StadiumArrowhead Stadium10-3-10.758-60.571
1971CHIWrigley FieldSoldier Field (I)6-80.4296-80.429
1971DALCotton BowlTexas Stadium10-40.71411-30.786
1971NWEHarvard StadiumFoxboro Stadium2-120.1436-80.429
1971PHIFranklin FieldVeterans Stadium3-10-10.256-7-10.464
1971SFOKezar StadiumCandlestick Park10-3-10.759-50.643
1970CINNippert StadiumCinergy Field4-9-10.3218-60.571
1970BOSAlumni StadiumHarvard Stadium4-100.2862-120.143
1970PITPitt StadiumThree Rivers Stadium1-130.0715-90.357
1969BOSFenway ParkAlumni Stadium4-100.2864-100.286
1968HOURice StadiumHouston Astrodome9-4-10.6797-70.5
1967SDGBalboa StadiumQualcomm Stadium7-6-10.5368-5-10.607
1966STLBusch Stadium (Sportsman's Park)Busch Stadium5-90.3578-5-00.607
1966OAKFrank Youell FieldOakland-Alameda County Coliseum8-5-10.6078-5-10.607
1965HOUJeppesen StadiumRice Stadium4-100.2864-100.286
1964NYJPolo GroundsShea Stadium5-8-10.3935-8-10.393
1964PITForbes FieldPitt Stadium7-4-30.6075-90.357

That’s mostly a fun trip down memory lane, but the row at the bottom is instructive. On average, these teams were ever so slightly better in year 1 in a new stadium than in the prior season. That also jives with Jason Lisk’s research, and the Vikings and 49ers might be best suited to take advantage of their new elements in 2015. But in any event, I wouldn’t worry too much about a team switching stadiums. For 49ers fans, the most comparable teams as far as success and recency are the Colts and Eagles, and both continued their good play in year 1 at the new stadium.

No team has been at its current stadium for as many consecutive year as the Packers, who have been at Lambeau since 1957. The table below lists shows when each team first began playing in its current stadium, although forays into other stadiums (see Chicago and Oakland) reset the clock.2

1San Francisco 49ers2014Levi's Stadium
1Minnesota Vikings2014TCF Bank Stadium
3New York Giants2010MetLife Stadium
3New York Jets2010MetLife Stadium
5Dallas Cowboys2009Cowboys Stadium
6Indianapolis Colts2008Lucas Oil Stadium
7Arizona Cardinals2006University of Phoenix Stadium
8Chicago Bears2003Soldier Field (II)
8Philadelphia Eagles2003Lincoln Financial Field
10Detroit Lions2002Ford Field
10New England Patriots2002Gillette Stadium
10Seattle Seahawks2002CenturyLink Field
10Houston Texans2002Reliant Stadium
14Denver Broncos2001Sports Authority Field at Mile High
14Pittsburgh Steelers2001Heinz Field
16Cincinnati Bengals2000Paul Brown Stadium
17Tennessee Titans1999LP Field
17Cleveland Browns1999Cleveland Browns Stadium
19Baltimore Ravens1998M&T Bank Stadium
19Tampa Bay Buccaneers1998Raymond James Stadium
21Washington Redskins1997FedEx Field
22Carolina Panthers1996Bank of America Stadium
23Oakland Raiders1995Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
23St. Louis Rams1995Edward Jones Dome
23Jacksonville Jaguars1995EverBank Field
26Atlanta Falcons1992Georgia Dome
27Miami Dolphins1987Dolphin Stadium
28New Orleans Saints1975Louisiana Superdome
29Buffalo Bills1973Ralph Wilson Stadium
30Kansas City Chiefs1972Arrowhead Stadium
31San Diego Chargers1967Qualcomm Stadium
32Green Bay Packers1957Lambeau Field

Here’s a fun bit of trivia. Since 1961, the NFL has never gone four straight seasons without some team switching stadiums. And it’s only gone three straight years without a new facility three different times: 1977 to 1979, 1989 to 1991, and the last three years, 2011-2013. I am sure Roger Goodell will do his best to make sure that doesn’t happen again under his watch, and the league is off to a strong start. The 49ers will play at Levi’s Stadium in 2014, Minnesota will move into Vikings Stadium in 2016, and the Falcons are going to be playing at a new stadium beginning in 2017. And presumably, there will be new stadiums built in one of the California cities at some point this decade.

  1. I’m not including the Katrina Saints, because, come on. I’m also not counting the Browns/Ravens as one franchise, but did count the Titans/Oilers as one franchise, per NFL convention. []
  2. Also, naming rights are being displayed in your author’s sole discretion. I’m okay calling the Jaguars stadium by its corporate name and saying Denver plays at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, but I’m not listing the Raiders as playing in O.co Coliseum or the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. I’m weird, I know. []
  • Arif

    Do you think there’s a discernible difference for teams moving into or out of outside/inside conditions? Some people have mentioned the possibility of a “dome team” moving outside could have a strong effect, especially as two other members of the division are more used to playing outside.

    I would imagine this effect would be somewhat pronounced, especially as it’s mostly northern teams who have moved indoors from outside.

    • Chase Stuart

      Ignoring the Katrina Saints, I have the following teams moving from indoors to outdoors:

      ’99-’00 Seahawks (9-7 to 6-10)
      ’96 Oilers-’97 Titans (8-8 to 8-8)

      Following the fall of ceiling tiles at the Kingdome, the Seahawks played three games outdoors at Husky Stadium and went 1-2 in 1994: http://www.seahawks.com/news/articles/article-1/On-this-date-Ceiling-tiles-fall-from-Kingdome-Seahawks-move-to-Husky-Stadium/acbceeb0-1ea6-4249-8e2e-bc5d97031dd7

      That’s all I see as far as teams moving from indoors to outdoors.

      • Travis

        The 2010 Vikings had their Week 15 game against the Bears moved outdoors to the University of Minnesota’s stadium because the Metrodome’s roof collapsed. They lost 40-14.

        Not that it matters, but the ’97 Titans were actually the ’97 (Tennessee) Oilers.

  • Richie

    I remember the Dolphins getting a new stadium in 1987. It’s amazing to me that this is now the 6th-oldest stadium.

    Kind of like the Dodgers. I think Dodger Stadium is now the 3rd-oldest stadium in baseball (after Wrigley and Fenway)!

    I’m not sure how to do this, but I would love to see the above chart of stadium ages somehow shown year-by-year. Maybe the way to do it would be a graph with years on the x-axis, and “median age”, “oldest age” and “newest age” on the y-axis?

    Are we in a time of particularly new stadiums or not?

  • George

    Hi Chase,

    I’m happy to try and put some numbers on this in a couple of weeks (I’m just a bit busy at the moment). I strongly now believe in individual Home Advantages (which for the NFL add up to average of around 2-3), and I do believe that team ratings should be worked out on the basis of the Home Advantage not being a common number (and with respect to it, e.g. I believe last years Seattle team to be substantially better than the previous years, which was offset by a substantially higher HFA in 2012 which I think may have masked some of Russell Wilson’s issues in his first year/or the team not being as good as it was last year).

    I think in answer to the question of how will it affect the Vikings, I’m going to go with not too much. The last five seasons I have their HFA as:

    13.53 per game – 2009
    0.45 – 2013

    The only way that I can see this getting worse is if it is negative. On average across other sports HFA tend to be negative in only around 20% of cases (one of the Swinburne University studies had this figure), so there is a reasonable chance that things may actually improve.

    The downside to this is that teams tend to have a reduced HFA when moving to a new stadium (Pollard, R. (2002). Evidence of a reduced home advantage when a team moves to a new stadium. Journal of Sport Sciences, 20, 969-973. – I haven’t read this but have seen it quoted in multiple places elsewhere, also it was about the NHL, NBA and MLB but not the NFL). I am just thinking though that it has to be at least average to be reduced though? If it is already a below average HFA what’s the chance of it getting worse?

    I’m going to hold off on the 49ers though as I had them with a marginally better HFA than the Vikings and I have them slipping by a point or two probably in their first couple of years at a new stadium. I think HFA’s are a fun topic and I just like to think that a Stadium can actually hold some value and is more than just somewhere where you can watch your team play.

    Nice work as usual.

  • James

    I can’t find it right now, but someone (you? Lisk? Burke?) showed that homefield advantage was greater in non-divisional games than in divisional games, and when a team got a new stadium homefield advantage temporarily increased for divisional games.

    I think they also did a case study with the stadium in New Jersey to see how divisional opponents of the Jets did against the Giants, and vice versa, which somewhat supported the idea that stadium familiarity is a big part of home field advantage.

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