However, nothing stalls a stadium’s glory quite like a loss for the home team. Fans head for the exits dejected, eager to beat the post-game traffic. Groans replace cheers, and no one feels like doing the wave anymore. We feel your pain, sports fans: Watching your team lose live can be a bummer.
That’s why we set out to determine which teams treat the home crowd to victory most often. Gathering stats on victories at home from the four major professional sports leagues, we determined which teams had the best record of delivering wins in front of loyal fans. Read on to learn which cities are most likely to witness a win at home, and which teams leave fans frustrated.
Home Team Heroes
According to our stats, a little fan enthusiasm goes a long way: The home team wins nearly 56% of the time. But some cities seem to give their teams a little extra nudge in the right direction – or a spur perhaps. San Antonio led all cities in the percentage of home games won, chalking up the win in almost three-quarters of contests. All of the winningest at-home cities were one-team towns, and all except Green Bay host NBA franchises. Perhaps because of their penchant for winning at home, Cheeseheads hail from far beyond Green Bay: The town’s population is only slightly larger than Lambeau’s seating capacity.
Places with multiple teams were less likely to see a win at home: Even the best cities with three, four, or more sports didn’t crack 60% in at-home wins. Chicago and Washington, D.C., were particularly tough places for spectators, with win percentages below the average for any sports city. But hockey towns had it the worst when it came to witnessing losses. All of our bottom five cities host hockey teams, and they lose enough at home that their rinks could be made from recycled fan tears.
Football stadiums are typically larger than that of other American sports, meaning potentially higher stakes for victory and disaster in front of massive home crowds. And no team has delivered at home more often than the Pittsburgh Steelers, waved on by their supporters’ “Terrible Towels.” Denver came in a close second, although that may have as much to do with physics as fandom. Mile High Stadium puts visiting players to the test with lower oxygen content due to its elevation.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, is home to two football teams that have been likely to disappoint on Sundays. For a city that went without a football team for 21 years, its recent arrivals must seem a little anticlimactic. Meanwhile, Cleveland natives have some griping of their own to do. The last time the Browns mustered a winning season was 2007, and plenty of at-home beat downs have taken place since. To win back bitter fans, the team’s ticket prices have dropped as low as $12 – at least you won’t pay much to watch them lose.
Root, Root, Root for the Home Team
Apologies to the Red Sox faithful, but two other storied baseball cities beat Boston out for home win percentages. New York City and Los Angeles each saw their teams win more than 57% of games played at home, although these cities are internally divided in their baseball loyalties. Be they fans of the Mets or Yankees, Dodgers or Angels, residents of either city can just feel glad they’re not from San Diego. The Padres barely win more than half of their games played before a hometown crowd, and with the departure of the Chargers, the sports hopes of the city rest squarely on the shoulders of the Friars.
Other poor home performers include the Phillies, Mariners, Rays, and Marlins. Perhaps that’s why a 2017 visit by the Phillies to Miami merited coverage for dubious reasons: Merely 1,590 fans attended. Tampa Bay has had it even worse overall, however, ranking dead last in average attendance among all MLB teams.
Hoop Dreams at Home
Relative to other leagues, NBA teams fare best at home, winning more than 61% of contests in front of friendly fans. The Spurs, our best team at home, have historically done plenty of winning wherever they play: The team owns the best overall win percentage of any active franchise. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s lineage is shorter in its current home city, but the team has given its fans plenty to love. Since relocating and changing names in 2008, the team has had just one losing season.
Our worst at-home performers are a predictable bunch of long-suffering franchises. The Timberwolves haven’t had much experience winning at venues, let alone their own: The team’s last winning season was 2004-05. Toronto fans have had more reason for optimism of late, with a string of four seasons above .500. New Orleans, meanwhile, has had little incentive to warm up to their Pelicans. Between their mediocre record and questionable name, it’s no wonder their attendance ranks near the bottom of all NBA teams.
At Home on Ice
Finally, a Canadian team that doesn’t disappoint its home crowd habitually! The Canadiens have recently struggled to keep fans coming, but perhaps that’s only because they’ve spoiled them with home victories previously. By contrast, the Penguins have had no trouble supplying recent wins at home. That includes their second consecutive Stanley Cup title, clinched in front of an adoring Pittsburg crowd in 2017.
Meanwhile, warmer locales have been inhospitable to winning hockey: The Panthers, Lighting, and Coyotes have delivered a victory in less than half of their home appearances. Among our bottom teams, Arizona, Florida, and Columbus seem to be paying the steepest price for their at-home issues. Each of these teams ranked among the NHL’s least-attended franchises during the 2016-17 season.
Winning From Your Own Home
While a game can get depressing pretty quickly once the home team falls behind, loyalty is one of sports fans’ greatest virtues. Even if you’re unlikely to see your team win, you’ll probably enjoy your next visit to your local stadium, if only to take part in its game day traditions. Win or lose, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded folks with a passion for the home team. And even if your side gets blown out, misery loves company.
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Using data compiled from sports-reference.com’s records of professional sports teams’ performances, we calculated the percentage of home games each team has won.
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