Oregon is not only a feared opponent in athletics; its venues are also some of the most formidable to play in. Here’s a look at what home field advantage means for Ducks sports teams:
Since 2002, the Oregon football team’s average margin of victory has been just over 15 points per game. Oregon’s victory margin at home doubles its victory margin on the road. Head coach Mark Helfrich attributes the disparity to the atmosphere of Autzen Stadium, which Stack.com ranked the fourth loudest stadium in college football, based on noise levels measured in decibels.
“Our fans have been awesome,” Helfrich said. “Traditionally, teams will perform better at home, but our home atmosphere is unbelievable.”
Before the new Papé Field opened in 2012, the Oregon women’s soccer team played at the old Papé Field, where the Football Performance Center is now. In the seven seasons prior to the move, the Ducks fared worse at home than away. They scored more goals per game and allowed fewer goals per game on the road.
The Ducks have drastically improved since they started playing on the new Papé Field turf, as opposed to the old Papé Field grass. At home, they now average a victory margin of .24 goals, whereas before they averaged a loss by .22 goals. The defense has fared better, allowing nearly 40 percent fewer goals on the new field. On the road, however, they now score nearly 65 percent fewer goals, possibly because they are no longer accustomed to playing on grass.
The Oregon baseball program was reinstated in 2009 after a 26-year absence due to budget issues. Following its reinstatement came the new PK Park, which has shown to be one of the more pitcher-friendly parks in college baseball. The friendliness of a given ballpark to pitchers and hitters can be measured simply by dividing the average runs scored by both teams in that ballpark by the average runs scored by both teams in that team’s road games.
Since 2009, the Ducks have played 218 games at PK Park and 218 on the road. In those home games, the Ducks and their opponents have scored a combined average of 8.33 runs per game. On the road, however, they’ve averaged a combined 9.47 runs per game. The resulting park factor, .879, tells that teams average about 88 percent as many runs at PK Park as they do at other ballparks, ergo, PK Park is quite pitcher-friendly. By comparison, only three out of 30 MLB ballparks have lower park factors in 2015, and they’re all on the west coast: Safeco Field (Mariners), Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Angels) and AT&T Park (Giants).
Matthew Knight Arena
Since the college basketball arena opened in January 2011, the Oregon men’s and women’s basketball teams have had mixed results. On average, the men score and allow slightly fewer points per game at Matthew Knight Arena than they did at McArthur Court. On the other hand, the women score and allow significantly more at Matthew Knight Arena.
In general, the men’s team appears to have improved while the women’s team appears to have regressed since the stadium transition. On average, the men fared worse in road games during the McArthur Court era than they have in the Matt Knight Arena era. The women used to average wins (average score of both teams resulted in Oregon victory) at home, but now they average losses both at home and on the road.
A reasonable explanation for this phenomenon is the men’s team has benefited more from recruiting than the women’s team since the opening of the new facility. In fact, the recruiting budget for men’s basketball increased by 141 percent from fiscal year 2010 to 2012, while the recruiting budget for women’s basketball decreased by 11 percent.
Follow Kenny Jacoby on Twitter @KennyJacoby