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Will the Vikings Win More Games in Their New Stadium?

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NFL teams have made the playoffs more frequently and won more Super Bowls during the last five years in their old stadiums as compared to the first five years in their new facilities

minnesotavikingslogo10.pngAfter taking several years to work out a deal with Minnesota lawmakers, the Minnesota Vikings' stadium troubles manage to linger on - most recently with a lawsuit filed by three Minneapolis residents over the legality of the estimated $450+ million stadium bond sale.

That sale has been delayed and could theoretically push back the scheduled opening of the forthcoming stadium for the 2016 season if legal battles don't go the team's way - and quickly.

With the state kicking in just over one-third of the bill and Minneapolis another one-sixth in hospitality taxes, the 2012 deal did not call the teams' bluff - that the Vikings might look to a different city to host its franchise without public financial support of a new facility.

As the recent lawsuit suggests, the political bickering over the state and city's role in public stadium financing of sports facilities did not end with the agreement reached in St. Paul nearly two years ago.

But while the new Vikings stadium may end up as a better place to watch a game, will the stadium make the Vikings a better team?

To be sure, new stadiums generate extra buzz in the short-term, usually leading to increased revenue for the franchise.

However, there is little evidence to suggest a new stadium brings more victories - particularly in a league in which teams can go from worst to first in one season (and vice-versa) regardless of their stadium situation.

In fact, Vikings fans may be sorely disappointed once they learn how teams have fared in their new digs over the decades (although perhaps not shocked after the dismal last three years endured by the Minnesota Twins in their new ballpark).

A Smart Politics review of the records of NFL teams during the five years before and after new stadiums were built finds that the new stadium is correlated with an increase of less than one-half of a victory per season, slightly fewer playoff appearances, and fewer Super Bowl victories.

This analysis tallied the winning percentages of the 26 NFL teams during the five years prior to and after opening their current stadium.

(Note: That tally includes the Chicago Bears, whose Soldier Field was substantially renovated for a 2003 reopening. Excluded from analysis are three teams that have played in only one stadium (Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams) plus three expansion or relocated teams (Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Oilers/Titans) whose new stadiums were completed within two years after establishing themselves in their new cities.

During the final five years in their old stadiums, these 26 NFL teams compiled a record of 956 wins, 1,001 losses, and 21 ties, or a winning percentage of .489.

During the first five years in their new stadiums, that record improved only slightly to 1,000 wins, 950 losses, and 17 ties, or a winning percentage of .513.

That amounts to an increase of approximately one-third of a victory per year.

Overall, 12 franchises recorded a lower winning percentage during the first half decade in their new stadium: the Kansas City Chiefs (-.278), Miami Dolphins (-.214), Indianapolis Colts (-.175), Detroit Lions (-.156), Cleveland Browns (-.125), San Francisco 49ers (-.118), Minnesota Vikings (-.081), Denver Broncos (-.075), New York Giants (-.066), Dallas Cowboys (-.063), San Diego Chargers (-.050), and Cincinnati Bengals (-.013).

(Note: The New York Giants and New York Jets have recorded only four seasons in their new facility, MetLife Stadium).

The remaining 16 teams notched a higher winning percentage in the new stadium: Oakland Raiders (+.393), Buffalo Bills (+.236), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+.200), New England Patriots (+.200), Pittsburgh Steelers (+.156), Chicago Bears (+.138), Arizona Cardinals (+.125), Washington Redskins (+.118), Green Bay Packers (+.117), Seattle Seahawks (+.100), Philadelphia Eagles (+.088), New York Jets (+0.066), Atlanta Falcons (+0.59), and New Orleans Saints (+0.38).

As exciting as the NFL action is week-to-week, regular season success, of course, takes a back seat to the big prize - winning the Super Bowl.

As it turns out, more teams have won the Super Bowl playing in the last five years of their old stadium (six: the Chiefs in 1969, Broncos in 1997 & 1998, Patriots in 2001, Colts in 2006, and Giants in 2007) than in the first five years of their new stadium (five: the Buccaneers in 2002, Steelers in 2005, Patriots in 2003 & 2004, and Giants in 2011).

Teams in new stadiums also lost the Super Bowl seven times, compared to just two times in the closing years of their old stadiums.

Overall, teams made the playoffs 47 times during the last five years in their old stadium and 45 times during the first five years of the new one.

Nearly half the league has opened up a new stadium in the 21st Century with the new Vikings facility the 15th new NFL stadium since 2000 including the new San Francisco 49ers facility in Santa Clara opening in 2014.

Of course, to die-hard Vikings fans, it is better to have an NFL franchise in the state - even one that isn't improved after the new stadium is built - than having no team at all.

For those who are opposed to the public financing of stadiums, it would not matter one iota even if teams did fare noticeably better and brought home more championships in the wake of such new facilities.

And so, the political and legal battles continue...

Winning Percentages of NFL Teams 5 Seasons Before and After the Opening of New Stadiums

Team
Before
W
L
T
%
After
W
L
T
%
New York Giants
2005-09
49
31
0
.613
2010-13*
35
29
0
.547
New York Jets
2005-09
36
44
0
.450
2010-13*
33
31
0
.516
Dallas Cowboys
2004-08
46
34
0
.575
2009-13
41
39
0
.512
Indianapolis Colts
2003-07
63
17
0
.788
2008-12
49
31
0
.613
Arizona Cardinals
2001-05
27
53
0
.338
2006-10
37
43
0
.463
Philadelphia Eagles
1998-02
42
38
0
.525
2003-07
49
31
0
.613
Chicago Bears**
1998-02
32
48
0
.400
2003-07
43
37
0
.538
New England Patriots
1997-01
43
37
0
.538
2002-06
59
21
0
.738
Seattle Seahawks
1997-01
40
40
0
.500
2002-06
48
32
0
.600
Detroit Lions
1997-01
33
47
0
.413
2002-06
22
58
0
.257
Denver Broncos
1996-00
56
24
0
.700
2001-05
50
30
0
.625
Pittsburgh Steelers
1996-00
43
37
0
.538
2001-05
55
24
1
.694
Cincinnati Bengals
1995-99
29
51
0
.363
2000-04
28
52
0
.350
Cleveland Browns
1994-98
36
44
0
.450
1999-03
26
54
0
.325
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1993-97
34
46
0
.425
1998-02
50
30
0
.625
Washington Redskins
1992-96
31
49
0
.388
1997-01
40
39
1
.506
Atlanta Falcons
1987-91
26
53
0
.329
1992-96
31
49
0
.388
Miami Dolphins
1982-86
53
18
0
.746
1987-91
42
37
0
.532
Minnesota Vikings
1977-81
40
37
1
.519
1982-86
32
41
0
.438
New Orleans Saints
1970-74
18
48
4
.286
1975-79
24
50
0
.324
Buffalo Bills
1968-72
13
54
3
.207
1973-77
31
39
0
.443
Kansas City Chiefs
1967-71
49
18
3
.721
1972-76
30
38
2
.443
San Diego Chargers
1962-66
39
26
5
.593
1967-71
36
30
4
.543
Oakland Raiders
1961-65
26
41
3
.393
1966-70
53
13
4
.786
San Francisco 49ers
1955-59
30
29
1
.508
1960-64
26
41
1
.390
Green Bay Packers
1952-56
22
37
1
.375
1957-61
30
31
4
.492
Total
 
956
1,001
21
.489
 
1,000
950
17
.513
* Denotes teams that have only played four seasons in their new stadium. ** Solider Field reopened in 2003 after substantial renovations but was not a brand new facility. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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