Sports Venue Architects have monumental tasks, building big, beautiful stadiums that hold thousands of people. But it’s not only the view of the game they have to worry about; it’s the sound in the stadium too. Many leagues and sports teams have realized the cheering can have – especially in the NFL, where chants have been known to disrupt games.
Architecturally, this issue comes from using reflective materials in ceiling construction or placing the seats in close proximity to the court or field. Another problem is aluminum or plastic seats that fans bang and stomp upon.
On the other side of the coin, interestingly enough, some teams are trying to artificially increase the amount of sound in a stadium to create the perception of louder or more fans. This has created other issues, like when the Atlanta Falcons were heavily fined because they played fake spectator noise/audio inside its former Georgia Dome home stadium. The Cleveland Browns team was also fined for enhancing noise electronically.
But back to improving acoustics – read more about sports arena acoustics below.
First Up…Physics and Sound Physics
Balancing the need for high volumes that allow both speech integrity and music reproduction is the ultimate challenge for sports venue sound.
Acoustic experts agree that core acoustic concepts need to be adhered to. The most ideal situation involves finding the balance between intelligibility of the PA system and the sound of the crowd, which is quite the feat.
Sporting venues are now using the same techniques as entertainment venues including ultra-reflective materials near the seating area. Reflections create a sense of proximity in the venue, and absorptive materials mitigate lengthier reverb times in more distant parts of the stadium to improve audibility of speech and music.
But what if the sound is already poor?
Despite these advancements, some stadiums still are not built with sound in mind. If acoustics weren’t taken into consideration before the stadium was built, soundproofing treatments end up costing more.
Acoustic consultants and soundproofing experts are the best people to advocate for acoustical improvements - during the design part of the process. This is the best way to ensure a great sound – and game experience – for spectators and players alike.