In The Loudest Stadiums In America, The Noise Is Deafening — Literally

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The University of Florida’s football stadium, widely known as “The Swamp” is one of the loudest stadiums in the nation, ranked No. 3 in noise by ESPN. It is also one of the largest stadiums, ranked No. 13 according to Fox Sports. The venue holds over 88,000 people, but over 90,000 attend the larger games, such as the matchup between in-state rival Florida State University in 2009.

Although many fans love the roar of the stadiums, Justin Margolis sees the noise as a disadvantage. 

“The noise is so loud,” Margolis said. “You can’t even hear yourself think.”

This may be cause for concern. 

Although Louisiana State University’s Death Valley stadium is said to be the loudest venue in college football, UF’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium’s unique structure causes all of the sound to funnel to the center of the field.

The sound produced by fans is often caught inside, making it even louder.

In fact, a sound meter picked up so much noise during Florida’s game against Eastern Michigan that the levels were maxed out.

But for some, such as Florida Football fan Stefano Teixeira, the roaring cheers are a part of the overall experience.

“Coming into the stadium and coming out is deafening,” Teixeira said. “It’s one of the greatest experiences you can encounter.”

But danger could be in the numbers.

Dr. Jagadish Swamy of Clear Sound Audiology in Gainesville explained a person should not be exposed to a level of 85 decibels for more than eight hours – and the louder it gets, the less time someone should tolerate it.

“(For) every three decibels over 85 decibels, the recommended duration is taken by half,” Swamy said. “So, let’s say you go from 85 to 88 (decibels), the recommended exposure time would be four hours. Now, imagine if it’s about 100 decibels or 120, it could just be a few minutes.”

Inside the stadium, when the fans are settled and plays are dead, the levels read at around 77 decibels.

Outside of the stadium during a game day, fans produce sound levels of about 70 decibels.

And on one of the highest rows in the north end zone, when the crowd goes wild, levels read over 100 decibels, which fans and players are experiencing for almost four hours.

The Guinness World Record for the highest decibel level in a stadium was set by the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Fans produced sound levels of 142.2 decibels during a game against the New England Patriots.

Swamy said any protection to the ears can help. Athletes are the most exposed, but they are protected by their helmets.

“It offers some protection,” Swamy said. But while the athletes are on the sidelines with their helmets off, the experience the full force of the noise. “The stadium and everybody makes noise so they cannot hear.”

Although people enjoy the excitement of football games, the damaging effects are considerable.

Swamy advises fans to take caution when attending football games. Any protection, like wearing headphones or ear plugs, can help to lessen vulnerability to dangerous sound levels during a Florida Football game.

About James Torrez

James is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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