Is there such a thing as home field advantage anymore?03 de Febrero de 2023 a las 13:07
Photo courtesy of SASKATCHEWAN RUSH
Article by Gary Groob
Columnist and Co-Host of NLL Lacrosse Talk on Spanglish Sports World and Spanglish World Networks
TORONTO. - When trying to come with an idea for this week's editorial, I was talking with a colleague about attendance, and if there was such a thing as home field advantage anymore?
In The Past:
Looking back at some of the most notorious places to play in the past, a few places came to my mind just from my own experiences. The Spectrum in Philadelphia, The Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, and Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. These were big hockey arenas, but the fans were almost on top of the players, the glass was low, and they drew very well. These teams were almost unbeatable on their home floor, and the boisterous, sometimes verging on insane crowds had a lot to do with it.
During this period, every arena had their own nuances, each constructed slightly differently. Some arenas had smaller surfaces, some were lit differently, some had more lively boards, etc. Many organizations put their teams together with these home arena strengths in mind and reaped the benefits of smart building.
With arenas changing configurations to be more spacious, with pretty much the same dimensions, that advantage was gone. Using the same materials for boards, higher glass, more separation of the fans from players, those advantages were gone as well.
Teams that drew well still had a noise advantage. Calgary, Colorado, Saskatchewan, and Rochester (in the mid 2010's) all had great attendance, and in turn also had tremendous won/loss records at home. All these cities had championship teams as well, though it begs the question of the chicken and the egg...Did the crowds help create the championship teams, or did the championship teams draw well because they were winning? A safe answer would be to say both were correct.
Although a few cities still had strong attendance numbers (pre Covid-19), Calgary, Buffalo, Saskatchewan, and Colorado were still drawing 14,000+ per game, the majority of the league was much lower than that. Were these teams still as dominant as before? Did home advantage have anything to do with it anymore?
Although parity in the league has a lot to do with the results, minor lacrosse development has allowed all teams to build strong competitive units. The once ominous arenas didn’t seem so ominous anymore. Teams are business as usual, not paying much attention to the “barn” they were playing in.
State Of The Union:
Television deals, and social media platforms in full swing. With the marketing of teams merchandise, games, players, etc., full arenas are not the only way teams can make money anymore. This puts the focus on other aspects of the business of the game.
The NLL has spent a number of years building a solid foundation. With “blue chip” ownerships, TV/Radio, plus social media platforms, it is more financially sustainable than ever before. This league will see growth for years to come with more people exposed to the game. This allows teams the freedom to market individually, and as a group. Selling to “in market”, as well as “out of market” fans around the world. Thus, Increasing bottom lines, and assuring the league of success for many years.