What's in a new NFL venue? Here at Construction Dive, we say building is everything. And my overriding explanation for the Minnesota Vikings 2016 success thus far has to be the new $1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium that the team now calls home.
How else do you explain a 5-0 record after the starting quarterback gets injured before the regular season starts and the premier running back suffers a torn meniscus in Week 2? They aren't supposed to be winning. The Vikings are also the only undefeated team in the league. Kudos to the menacing defense, ranked fourth in the league, and an offense that does not make glaring mistakes but is ranked 30th out of the 32 teams for yards per game.
What else, we ask, could account for their incredible success other than being the only team to debut a stadium this year?
Typical of stadium projects across the country, financing and politicking dominated conversation around the new facility. There may have been construction snags, but let us not forget that U.S. Bank Stadium opened ahead of schedule. This place is tricked out — a modern-day Viking ship that boasts a seating capacity of 66,200, features a tall sail and a 2,000-square-foot curved LED video board. Even former Vikings greats, who will never play in the new stadium, are gushing over the place.
Just the way the new car smell makes all drivers feel as if they are behind the wheel of a Lamborghini, the aroma of a new new stadium psychs practically any team into feeling it can win.
Key stats on new NFL stadiums and team performance
|Season||Team||Record||Stadium||Lead Architect, Manager|
|2000||Cincinatti Bengals||2-14||Paul Brown Stadium||NBBJ|
|2001||Pittsburgh Steelers||13-3||Heinz Field||(then HOK) Populous|
|2001||Denver Broncos||8-8||Invesco Stadium at Mile High||HNTB Fentress Architects|
|2002||New England Patriots||9-7||Gillette Stadium||Populous|
|2002||Detroit Lions||3-13||Ford Field||Rosetti Architects|
|2002||Houston Texans||4-12||Reliant Stadium||(then HOK) Populous|
|2003||Philadelphia Eagles||12-4||Lincoln Financial Field||NBBJ|
|2006||Arizona Cardinals||5-11||University of Phoenix Stadium||Eisenman Architects, (then HOK) Populous|
|2008||Indianapolis Colts||12-4||Lucas Oil Stadium||HKS|
|2009||Dallas Cowboys||11-5||Cowboys Stadium||HKS|
|2010||New York Giants||10-6||New Meadowlands Stadium||360 Architecture|
|2010||New York Jets||13-6||New Meadowlands Stadium||360 Architecture|
|2014||San Francisco 49ers||8-8||Levi's Stadium||HNTB Fentress Architects|
SOURCE: NFL, Wikipedia
The construction industry knows all about the clamor for new or renovated NFL stadiums. Since 2000, 12 new stadiums have been added to the NFL landscape. Nine of those teams have posted records at .500 or above. Is this proof positive? Well, no, but leave it to football purists to debate whether quarterback Sam Bradford can get out of the way and allow the defense to lead the team to the Super Bowl.
This isn't terribly scientific, but let's not cast it off too quickly as coincidence. Dallas opened it's megaspectacle, Cowboys Stadium, in 2009. The team was 11-5 and made the playoffs. When the shared home of the New York Jets and Giants opened in 2010 in East Rutherford, NJ, it brought success for both franchises. The Giants were 10-6, and the Jets went 11-5 and advanced to the playoffs.
But in 2013, the Jacksonville Jaguars opted for an upgraded facility rather than a new stadium, and the team went 4-12. Still think it's a coincidence?
The San Diego Chargers must think differently. The ownership group has had its eyes on a new stadium for some time. The team has two wins this season, which creates more of a sense of urgency. There is a ballot measure in November to help secure funding for a new stadium. The Chargers know the deal. Will the voters concur?
Still unconvinced of the effects of a new stadium? Check back here in a year, after the Atlanta Falcons open Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Deborah Barrington is a senior editor at Industry Dive following 25 years in sports at USA TODAY. She may have turned her attention to industry news, but she can't help keeping up with the latest football hype — and not only because she's dominating her fantasy football league.