General Sports

How does a new stadium impact wins and losses?

9/17/13 in General Sports   |   droth   |   127 respect

Few events get a sports fan riled up like filling a new stadium. With a new or upgraded building comes hope of a brighter future, that the team will do the new facility justice and finally reach its potential. Teams often rely on that added excitement to bring increased attention and ticket sales, but can they expect a change in scenery to help win games too? Is the energy that players and fans feel in a new or upgraded building enough to actually influence win-loss records? I dug through some numbers to find out exactly what impact new facilities have had in the last decade or so.

Since 2007, there have been 19 college basketball teams to move into a new venue. Of those schools, 10have had their win total rise their first season in the new arena,  saw their win total fall, and 2 stayed the same. On average, teams in a new arena saw their win total rise by 0.1 wins per season. And these are mostly low-level D-I chools. We're talking about the Coppin States and Quinnipiacs of the world. Louisville -- which won five  May 22, 2013; Santa Clara, CA, USA; A general view of the construction site of the new San Francisco 49ers stadium during organized team activities at the 49ers training complex. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports ore games after moving into the KFC Yum! Center in 2010 -- is the highest profile team on this list.

College football is another story. Since From 2007 to 2012, 26 schools have renovated stadiums; 13 schools have seen their win totals drop, 10 have risen, and 3 have stayed the same. On average, a renovated stadium has resulted in exactly one more loss per season among D-I programs. A brand new stadium, however, has shown positive impacts on win-loss records. A completely new building has meant 1.3 more wins per year. 

At the pro ranks, new buildings have had very different impacts. The most glaring difference in wins and losses can be seen in basketball, where there has been a pretty significant positive relationship between moving buildings and increasing win totals. Since 2003, four of the six teams to move buildings have seen their win totals rise in the following season. And when you add in the Sonics/Thunder, who moved to OKC and then boosted their win total from 20 in 2008 to a marginally less horrific 23 in 2009, five of seven teams saw their wins increase.

On average, teams that went to a new stadium saw added 6.4 wins per season. Even disregarding the​Nets, whose 27 win increase last season over the previous season really boosts the average, NBA teams win an average of 3 more games per season when moving into new buildings.

The NHL and MLB both had negative relationships between moving and winning right away. Two of the three Hockey teams to change buildings in the last decade have seen their win totals drop while only the Devils--who won two more games in their new home--saw an increase after moving. The Winnipeg Jets, like the Thunder, saw a small gain of three wins when moving cities. Including the Jets, NHL teams, on average, ave seen a drop of 1.75 wins per season in a new building.

Note to baseball teams that want to win: DON'T MOVE! One team has won more games after moving into a new building in the last ten years: the 2009 Yankees, who would go on to win the World Series. Of the other six, only one has seen its win total stay the same and the rest have fallen. Three teams have had a double-digit decline and the average among all teams is 6.85 fewer wins per season.

In the NFL teams see a slight increase in wins when moving stadiums. In the last decade, four teams have had win totals rise, two have declined and two have stayed the same, resulting in an average gain of 0.75 wins per year.

Oct 8, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Aerial view of the Barclays Center. The venue is the home arena for the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY SportsSo, clearly there are mixed results. Perhaps this means that there is no relationship or the sample size wasn't large enough, but that would mean I wasted my time looking up all of these numbers. Instead, I choose to interpret this information as evidence that fan enthusiasm has different impacts on different sports.

A new stadium means more excitement, but that will only be reflected in outcomes in sports where fans can impact the game or, in other words, when home court/field advantage is a real thing.

New college arenas and stadiums result in more wins. This makes sense. College fans go nuts and often impact games. If they are rowdier because they finally have a new home, that can translate to a win here or there. Renovations, however, result in 1 less win in for the average college football team. Perhaps a renovation just doesn't quite cut the mustard.

And in the pro ranks, the evidence actually lines up with how I interpret home court/field/ice advantage. Hockey and baseball, especially in the playoffs, are sports where momentum is everything and playing at home often does very little to help. And, as we might expect from that assumption, the added enthusiasm that comes from a new home hasn't meant any more wins.

But football and basketball, two sports where crowds can really help swing momentum, see more of a relationship between moving facilities and increasing win totals.

This explanation only covers part of it, however. How do players react to being in a new environment? From the evidence, it would appear that football and basketball players react more positively to a new place to play, but I'm curious what any athletes out there in the internet think? Why do some sports see a positive relationship but others don't?
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