Home sweet (new) home
Home sweet (new) home
2014-08-07 12:00:00

How do teams fare in their first season in a new stadium?

 By Greg Tepper
 DCTF Managing Editor

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It’s fair to call the weekend beginning Friday, August 29 and running through Sunday, August 31 an unprecedented weekend of football in the state of Texas.

At roughly 8 p.m. CT on the 29th, Houston will kick off with UTSA in the inaugural game at TDECU Stadium, the Coogs’ sparkling new home.

A little less than 48 hours later, at 6:30 p.m. CT on the 31st, Baylor’s season-opener against SMU will get going, launching the era of the new McLane Stadium on Baylor’s campus.

It will mark the first time that two FBS teams in the state of Texas have opened new stadiums in the same season, let alone in the same weekend. In fact, it’s only the second time it’s happened in any state — not since 1923, when USC christened the LA Coliseum and Cal opened up California Memorial Stadium.

A new stadium is an electrifying, once-in-a-long-while event for a college football program, and there will be plenty of understandable hullabaloo surrounding their openings. But once the games get going, they will be just like their predecessors: stadiums, hosting football games.

But let’s take a page from history. What does the past tell us to expect in Baylor and Houston’s first season in their new stadiums?

To figure that out, we went back to look at the inaugural season in each of the other 10 FBS teams in Texas’ current stadiums, as well as their last season before their current home, for comparison’s sake.

What did we find?

School Stadium Inaugural Year Record Prev. Season Win Δ
North Texas Apogee Stadium 2011 5-7 3-9 2
Rice Rice Stadium 1950 6-4 10-1 -4
SMU Ford Stadium 2000 3-9 4-6 -1
TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium 1930 9-2-1 9-0-1 -2
Texas Darrell K Royal Stadium 1924 5-3-1 8-0-1 -3
Texas A&M Kyle Field 1927 8-0-1 5-3-1 3
Texas State Bobcat Stadium 1981 13-1* 8-3* 5
Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium 1947 6-5 8-3 -2
UTEP Sun Bowl 1963 3-7 4-5 -1
UTSA Alamodome 2012 8-4 -- --

A couple of quick notations to the table above. For one, Texas State’s results in Bobcat Stadium represent when they were in Division II. Granted, they won the Division II national championship in their first season in their current home, but still worth noting.

Another: UTSA’s first season in the Alamodome was, well, their first season ever, so there’s nothing to compare them to.

So besides that, what’s to be gleaned? Well, the results aren’t all that promising.

Of the eight Texas teams that played at the FBS level the year before the new stadium and the first year of the new stadium, only two — North Texas and Texas A&M — improved after moving to their new stadium.

Two teams — Texas and Rice — definitely took a step back in their first year in their new stadium, while teams like TCU, UTEP and SMU had much less severe inaugural step-backs.

In all, though: teams averaged about 0.3 fewer wins in their first year in the new stadium compared to the last year in the old stadium.

Of course, it’s worth considering the timeframe for these stadiums: only two of them have opened in this century, while many others opened in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. So, not ancient history, but we’re talking about a lengthy period of time ago. Things have changed.

Will they change for Baylor and Houston in their new facilities? Once the fireworks fade and football gets back underway, we’ll find out.

Greg Tepper is the managing editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.

He can be reached via e-mail, via Twitter (@Tepper) and via the DCTF Facebook page.

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