1. A stadium football game averages about 117dB. That's loud enough that the human body begins to actually feel the sound, particularly lower-frequency vibrations. (85dB is the loudest volume considered "safe" for 8-hour periods of exposure. For four hours of exposure, the loudest acceptable "safe" volume would be 80dB.) Of course, that 117dB is an average, which factors in quieter times when the game is slow and the fans are just talking (instead of screaming). The peak volume points during a game can reach an incredible 135dB, depending on the stadium, the fans, and other factors, which is only a few decibels shy of the threshold of pain! Since games generally last 3-4 hours, there are plenty of opportunities for those incredibly loud moments to occur during each game. It's no small wonder, then, that some NFL teams (such as the Vikings) are starting to equip their players with custom molded ear plugs as part of their standard safety gear.
2. The loudest football stadiums are usually those with dome-style architecture. This is because the sound has nowhere to escape to, and just reflects back down toward the field. For instance, the now-demolished RCA Dome in Indianapolis (pictured above), previously the home of the Colts, had a dome roof which reflected sound right back down into the stands. This particular dome-style stadium was so loud that the Colts actually had to fight off charges that they were artificially pumping up the volume at games! The Colts' new home at Lucas Oil Stadium features a retractable roof, and therefore it also features lower decibel levels.
3. Not all of the loudest NFL stadiums are domes. Lambeau Field (pictured above), aka "The Frozen Tundra," is a great example of a football stadium that is quite noisy -- for a quite unusual reason. The combination of the stadium's design, location, and the strong (and very cold!) fall and winter winds that are typical of the local climate combine to make the whole stadium into one gigantic wind tunnel -- so much so that the roar of the wind significantly increases the volume of games there. Adding to that, Packers fans are some of the most legendary football noise-makers of all time.
4. The fans themselves have a measurable effect on the sound levels in a stadium, and the sheer number of seats (and voices) isn't always the determining factor. The mood and attitude of the fans makes a big difference; for instance, fans tend to cheer louder as the season goes on, either from excitement or frustration, so most NFL venues typically experience a slight climb in decibel levels with each game. The personality of the fans is important, too; some of the loudest fans on recent record include Chiefs fans and Seahawks fans. (The Seahawks actually built their new stadium to be louder on purpose! Check out the Seahawks fans pictured above and you'll start to understand why!) Vikings fans also get an honorable mention for cheering with enough gusto to do the actual historical vikings proud. And interestingly, at Invesco Field in Denver, the home team has an unusual noise-making advantage: because of the stadium's elevation, the air is thinner, meaning visiting fans often have trouble getting enough oxygen to cheer as loudly as normal... but the Broncos fans, who are acclimated to the elevation, make enough noise to more than cover the difference.
Until next time, be safe and do the right thing.
--Tom Bergman, Marketing Director