Will new stadium translate into victories?

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 11, 2012 - 12:00 PM

Sparkling new NFL stadiums can provide countless amenities and pad teams' coffers, but recent history shows they cannot guarantee success on the field.

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Artist's rendering of Vikings stadium

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Like it or not, the cost of doing business with the NFL was overdue in Minnesota.

Before the Vikings' stadium deal was approved Thursday, 78.1 percent of the league's 32 cities had, since 1995, already built new stadiums (21), significantly renovated old ones (Green Bay, Chicago and Kansas City) or recently reached an agreement to build a new stadium (San Francisco).

With the Metrodome being the sixth-oldest venue that wasn't renovated, it was only a matter of time before Minnesotans had to pony up or say goodbye to the Vikings. Unfortunately, choosing the former, even at a cost of $975 million, doesn't come with any guaranteed on-the-field success.

Most of the league's revenue -- about $4 billion in 2011 -- comes from broadcast deals and is shared evenly among 32 teams. Ticket sales also are split, with 60 percent going to home teams and 40 percent to the visitors.

What's not shared -- except for a 10 percent tax on the highest-revenue teams -- is revenue from the sale of luxury suites and stadium concessions. Hence the need for new stadiums that produce more revenue, higher profits and the capacity to keep pace with player costs.

But this is still a league that adheres to the core principle of parity. So new stadiums don't turn teams around by themselves.

Since 2000, 12 existing teams and one expansion franchise have gotten new stadiums. Of the 12 existing teams, five actually had a better record during the equal number of years before moving into the new stadium. Overall, those 12 are a combined 777-660-3 (.541) since their new stadiums opened compared to 722-717-1 (.502) in the equal number of years immediately before that.

Those 12 teams have made 44 playoff appearances and gone 51-39, including 5-7 in Super Bowls, since moving into new stadiums. During the equal number of years before their new stadiums, those teams made 38 playoff appearances and went 34-34, including 4-3 in Super Bowls.

Coincidence also plays a role.

The Patriots, for example, are 46 games better in their first 10 seasons in Gillette Stadium (123-37) than they were in their final 10 seasons at Foxboro Stadium (77-83). But they won the first of their three Super Bowls during the final season (2001) in their old stadium. And their current run of success has more to do with selecting Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 draft than any one player they acquired while in the new stadium.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, reached their first Super Bowl and their first NFL title game in 51 years during their third season (2008) in University of Phoenix Stadium. But the origin for that success came a year before the new stadium opened when Arizona got quarterback Kurt Warner off the street for a paltry one-year, $4 million deal.

There's no way to gauge how teams would have fared competitively or whether they could have even survived financially had they stayed in their old stadiums. But here's a before-and-after look at the 13 teams that have gotten new stadiums since 2000 (and notice just how much the cost of doing business with the NFL has increased in the past decade):

BENGALS, 2000: Paul Brown Stadium, $455 million.

New stadium, first 12 seasons: Record: 81-110-1 (.424). Playoffs: 0-3. Super Bowls: 0.

Old stadium, last 12 seasons: Record: 72-120 (.375). Playoffs: 3-2. Super Bowls: 1 (0-1).

Comment: Cincinnati has had two home playoff games in 12 seasons in its new stadium.

• • •

BRONCOS, 2001: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, $401 million.

New stadium, first 11 seasons: Record: 94-82 (.534). Playoffs: 2-4. Super Bowls: 0.

Old stadium, last 11 seasons: Record: 105-71 (.597). Playoffs: 8-4. Super Bowls: 2 (2-0).

Comment: John Elway retired three years before the new stadium opened.

• • •

STEELERS, 2001: Heinz Field, $281 million.

New stadium, first 11 seasons: Record: 118-57-1 (.673). Playoffs: 12-6. Super Bowls: 3 (2-1).

Old stadium, last 11 seasons: Record: 102-74 (.580). Playoffs: 5-6. Super Bowls: 1 (0-1).

Comment: Pittsburgh won six division titles in new stadium compared to five in its final 11 seasons at Three Rivers Stadium.

• • •

LIONS, 2002: Ford Field, $430 million.

New stadium, first 10 seasons: Record: 47-113 (.294). Playoffs: 0-1. Super Bowls: 0.

Old stadium, last 10 seasons: Record: 72-88 (.450). Playoffs: 0-5. Super Bowls: 0.

Comment: The Lions started the Ford Field era with nine consecutive losing seasons.

• • •

SEAHAWKS, 2002: CenturyLink Field, $430 million.

New stadium, first 10 seasons: Record: 81-79 (.506). Playoffs: 5-6. Super Bowls: 1 (0-1).

Old stadium, last 10 seasons: Record: 69-91 (.431). Playoffs: 0-1. Super Bowls: 0.

Comment: Seattle switched from the AFC West to the easier NFC West in 2002.

• • •

TEXANS, 2002: Reliant Stadium, $352 million.

New stadium, first 10 seasons: Record: 65-95 (.406). Playoffs: 1-1. Super Bowls: 0.

Expansion team.

Comment: The Texans didn't make the playoffs until last year, their 10th season.

• • •

PATRIOTS, 2002: Gillette Stadium, $325 million.

New stadium, first 10 seasons: Record: 123-37 (.769). Playoffs: 13-6. Super Bowls: 4 (2-2).

Old stadium, last 10 seasons: Record: 77-83 (.481). Playoffs: 6-4. Super Bowls: 2 (1-1).

Comment: Tom Brady became a starter and won a Super Bowl in the final year of the old stadium.

• • •

EAGLES, 2003: Lincoln Financial, $512 million.

New stadium, first nine seasons: Record: 87-56-1 (.608). Playoffs: 6-6. Super Bowls: 1 (0-1).

Old stadium, last nine seasons: Record: 75-68-1 (.524). Playoffs: 5-5. Super Bowls: 0.

Comment: The first two of four consecutive NFC title games came when the team was still at Veterans Stadium.

• • •

CARDINALS, 2006: University of Phoenix Stadium, $455 million.

New stadium, first six seasons: Record: 45-51 (.468). Playoffs: 4-2. Super Bowls: 1 (0-1).

Old stadium, last six seasons: Record: 30-66 (.313). Playoffs: 0-0. Super Bowls: 0.

Comment: The Cardinals struck gold by getting Kurt Warner a year before new stadium opened.

• • •

COLTS, 2008: Lucas Oil Stadium, $720 million.

New stadium, first four seasons: Record: 38-26 (.594). Playoffs: 2-3. Super Bowls: 1. (0-1).

Old stadium, last four seasons: Record: 51-13 (.797). Playoffs: 5-3. Super Bowls: 1 (1-0).

Comment: The Peyton Manning-led Colts won four consecutive division titles in their last four years in the old RCA Dome.

• • •

COWBOYS, 2009: Cowboys Stadium, $1.3 billion.

New stadium, first three seasons: Record: 25-23 (.521). Playoffs: 1-1. Super Bowls: 0.

Old stadium, last three seasons: Record: 31-17 (.646). Playoffs: 0-2. Super Bowls: 0.

Comment: The Cowboys went 13-3 and had the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed two years before their new stadium opened.

• • •

GIANTS, 2010: Met Life Stadium, $1.6 billion.

New stadium, first two seasons: Record: 19-13 (.594). Playoffs: 4-0. Super Bowls: 1 (1-0).

Old stadium, last two seasons: Record: 20-12 (.625). Playoffs: 0-1. Super Bowls: 0.

Comment: The Giants won Super Bowl two years after the new stadium opened and another one three years before it opened.

• • •

JETS, 2010: Met Life Stadium, $1.6 billion.

New stadium, first two seasons: Record: 19-13 (.594). Playoffs: 2-1. Super Bowls: 0.

Old stadium, last 12 seasons: Record: 18-14 (.563). Playoffs: 2-1. Super Bowls: 0.

Comment: Reached AFC title game in the last year of the old stadium and the first year of the new one.

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