Lack of Home Field Advantage

Maybe I’m reeling from the Broncos loss to the Raiders on Sunday, but this article from ESPN’s Bill Simmons about the lack of Home Field Advantage in New Stadiums got me thinking.  Simmons is pretty articulate, so here’s the reader’s digest version:

Teams with new (or significantly remodeled) stadiums in the last 10 years have compiled poor records against point spreads.  In 2008, the (spread) record for these teams are 29-44 this season.  In fact, the teams with new stadiums have fallen below .500 in beating-the-spread numbers 5 of the last 7 years.  The conclusion: SOTAS (state-of-the-art stadium) teams have watched their home-field advantage evaporate in a pile of money.

At first glance this seems coincidental, but when you think about how new stadium have changed the experience of going to NFL games, it’s pretty easy to understand why home field advantage isn’t what it used to be for these SOTAS teams.  Simmons tells a pretty good story of the Foxboro  gameday experience in his column, and it’s pretty similar to ours’.

Each Broncos home game, we make our way down to Denver with our tailgating gear in tow about 4-5 hours before game time.  Going to Broncos games does take the better part out of our day.  We leave the house at 10 and don’t get back home until 8pm. We arrive at the stadium, set up the grill, the chairs, the awning, the ladder golf and have our pre-game celebration.  We usually eat and drink pretty well before the game, and gluttony is still a fraction of the cost of the food & beer in the stadium.  We then take the 20 minute walk to the stadium and usually get to our seats right after kick-off. 

Our seats, while in the nosebleed levels, are great seats when it comes to watching the plays develop and being with fans that make true financial sacrifices to support their team.  As Simmons points out though, the NFL’s actions – both negligent and intentional – have diminished the role of the everyday fan at these games.  I never went to a game at the old Mile High, but I definitely heard the stories: stories of how loud that stadium got, and also stories of people who had season tickets during the stadium transition and got screwed out of great seats.  As Simmons points out, people who used to scream at the field are now sitting in the upper levels where they scream towards the sky. 

Simmons also makes a great point about the length of the games:

Throw in the dirty secret that it isn’t really fun to attend an NFL game in the 21st century — the routine of "kickoff, TV timeout, three plays, punt, TV timeout, five plays, field goal, TV timeout, kickoff, TV timeout, someone gets hurt on first down, prolonged TV timeout, three more plays, touchdown, extra point, TV timeout, kickoff, TV timeout" gets old after about 25 minutes

-Not to mention that during those TV timeouts, you’re subjected to ads there in the stadium. Everything has become sponsored by someone.  I thought it was Eddie Royal that brought us that first down – not Lowes.

I’ve been lucky enough to sit down in the 4th row from the field before, and while heckling the visiting bench is fun, most of the people down there really don’t give a damn about football – at least when compared to the people in the upper levels.  Bethany and I have sat in the club level when she got tickets from work and the people around us seemed annoyed when we made noise for the defense.

While I do consider myself lucky and blessed that I have the opportunity to go to the games, I can’t help but wonder about the comment Simmons made:

“The bad news is that, with just a few exceptions, it’s now more entertaining to invite your friends over, tailgate in your backyard and watch your favorite team on TV. You get the replays. You get HD. You have your own bathroom. You’re saving money. You can stand up if you want. You don’t have a commute. If you have the NFL package, you can flip around to other games during commercials. What’s the downside? You got me. I had 10 times more fun watching the Pats-Jets game at a New York City bar last week than I would have had at the actual game. And the sad thing was, I knew that would be the case.”

Playing at Mile High used to be a lock for Denver, but we’ve now dropped 3 games in-a-row at home.  I understand that the Broncos have a lot of other problems, but one can’t wonder if the Mile High Magic has diminished at Invesco and other brand new stadiums.

Mile High Music Festival Recap

Today is my first day back after a long, but very fun weekend at the Mile High Music Festival, and I’m definitely dragging. This weekend was a blast though, and I wanted to offer a few thoughts on Mile High Music, and the Festival experience.

In all the years that I’ve been going to concerts, this is the first time that I’ve been to a festival.  The closest experience that I’ve had was an all-day event that featured 5-6 bands, enough of a contrast of 48 bands over two days.  With the number and the sheer size of the place, it was definitely a taxing experience.  The weather nearly broke 100 degrees on both days, but I never appreciated clouds rolling in as much as I did each afternoon.  We rolled in on Saturday in the late afternoon, but not late enough to escape the heat. I also updated my Flickr with pictures from the festival as well.

Music. I managed to see:

  • Citizen Cope – They were playing when we walked in and were pretty impressed
  • O.A.R. – The show I was anticipating most, as I never heard them live before.  They had such an amazing sound!
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead – Awesome as always, I didn’t get to see as much as I hoped, but got my Spearhead fix nonetheless
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – I was surprised he played some of his biggest hits pretty early on in the set.  Tom Petty was about what I expected, I was glad to have seen him, but it wasn’t a highlight of the day for me.
  • OneRepublic – In all honesty, from what I heard I had low expectations going in, but was pleasantly surprised.
  • Flogging Molly – One of the best shows of the festival.  This was the first time I’ve seen them, but I definitely will be checking for the next time they come back to Denver.
  • John Mayer – This surprised me the most, as Mayer’s sound has changed drastically since the beginning of his mainstream career.  He was extremely talented live and put on an awesome show, but I don’t think he did justice to his bread and butter.  I joked that he played a medley of songs that he didn’t really want to play, but felt compelled to because songs like "No Such Thing" and "Why Georgia" made him big.  He never played "Your Body Is A Wonderland" or "Daughters" though, which I found hard to believe.
  • Dave Matthews Band – This was my 15th show, and was as good as ever. What I found however, is that after sitting in the sun for two days straight, I had no energy left for this show. I spent half of it sitting in the chair, just taking it in. Jeff Coffin did a great job playing for LeRoi (get well soon!), and it was pretty amazing seeing Tim Reynolds play

Venue & Festival Logistics:

The grounds of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park served as an excellent venue for the Festival.  Everything was spaced out pretty well, and it was surprising how little noise pollution there was.  In addition, the organizers were pretty smart in being liberal what they allowed people to bring.  The fact that we were able to bring in folding lawn chairs is really what enabled us to sit through the sweltering heat for two days.  We also brought in more water bottles then were allotted, and they didn’t give us a hard time.  Also, they have the smartest camera I’ve ever seen for a concert: "Non-pro cameras (film, disposable and digital); pro-camera is anything with detachable lens".  I also love the fact that they opened the stadium, allowing people to have shady places to sit as well as running water & toilets.

I know this may come across as overly critical, and the comments made must be taken with a grain of salt for two reasons: 1) This is the first year that they’ve done anything like this, and it’s a monumental task to plan; 2) This was the first festival I have ever been too, and it could be that every festival suffers from these issues.

Honestly, the festival felt like it was over-sold. Not that there’s any problem with having a good crowd at an event: if you have the capacity to accommodate the number of people.  I’ve probably been to at least 100 sporting events and concerts, and the lines at the Festival by far were the worst, especially when it came to food and water.  It easily took an hour to be able to get any kind of food, and the watering lines were too long for as hot as the days were.  I hope that next year they are able to increase the food vendors, as well as double the water stations.

If you read my post leading up to the Festival, you’ll notice I didn’t see all the bands that I originally listed.  With all of the crowds it simply made it too difficult to navigate out of the main stage area into any of the other stages.  This may be simply the way things are at a festival, but Sunday was definitely far worse in terms of volume of people camped out on the stage lawn.  I know the same amount of crows prevented our group from seeing any of the “village” exhibits, as well as the merchandise tent.

Also, I realize the role of General Admission in festivals, but I wish there was some way to offer incentives to people who bought their tickets early.  Our group was talking and we thought what would be cool would be to rope around some of the stages. The people who bought tickets when they first came out have access to the roped section closest to the stage.  You could even tier different sections of the grass dependant on when people bought their tickets.  This way, more people would buy their tickets earlier, and festival organizers can get a better sense of the final number. I know that people could buy tickets on even the week of the event, which makes me wonder how many people waited until the last minute and contributed to the surge.

Lastly, $8 for a beer?  That’s highway robbery.  I realize that people still paid for beer at that price (me included) but the going rate for these things should be between $5-$6.  Also when you charge $8 for a beer, don’t complain about running out of $1 bills for change.

Did you go to the festival?  What were some of your thoughts on the highlights and ways that the festival can be improved?

Mile High Music Festival Schedule Out

I mentioned last spring that Dave Matthews Band was coming to the Mile High Music Festival.  Originally I wasn’t too enthused with only seeing them in a festival setting, but after digesting the lineup I’ve really warmed up to the idea, and happy spent my summer’s concert budget on the festival (which $150 for 2 days isn’t really that bad).


The performers schedule was finally released last Friday and I’m beginning to plot my itinerary for the day.  I’m a little disappointed because many of the bands I was excited to se will be overlapping, although some just overlap slightly.

Also when planning the itinerary it’s also important to remember that it’s impossible to see all the bands, and you physically can’t watch shows from 11am to 11pm in the hot sun both days.  As much as I’m looking forward to seeing the bands, I’m just as excited about tailgating in between shows.  It reminds me of football games, where sometimes tailgating beforehand can be just as much fun – or even more than – seeing the actual game.

With that in mind, here’s my in-progress schedule:


  • 12:00pm Tailgating
  • 2:00pm Gavin Degraw
  • 3:00pm Jason Mraz
  • 4:00pm Steve Winwood (or Tailgating)
  • 6:00pm O.A.R.
  • 7:00pm Michael Franti & Spearhead
  • 9:00pm Tom Petty
  • Sunday

  • 12:00pm Tailgating
  • 2:00pm OneRepublic (although I’ve heard they’re not great live)
  • 3:00pm Colbie Caillat
  • 4:00pm Rodrigo Y Gabriela or Flogging Molly – that one’s up in the air
  • 5:30pm Flobots
  • 7:00pm The Roots
  • 8:45pm Dave Matthews Band
  • Do you have any suggestions for bands that are worth seeing?  As you can see,  I need to do some listening of the other bands, especially before 2pm.