College Football Rankings 2011: The 15 Loudest Stadiums in the Nation
Larry Burton (Syndicated Writer) When I've seen lists of noisiest stadiums little was done to prove the accuracy of the articles.
After months of interviews with television crews who register background noise and other scientific data, here is the accurate list of the top 15 noisiest stadiums.
Though noise levels vary from game to game depending on teams playing and warranted cirmstances, this is a list of fields that have tipped the noise meter in their benefit during that one great moment that placed them where they are today.
Some people went up on the list due to stadium enlargements or enclosures, some went down from lists you may have seen before.
The only two that are absolute certain are the top two, as they were scientifically recorded; the rest are from polls taken by television directors who cover the football games and meters that register crowd noise levels or noise levels on the field.
15. University of Georgia: Sanford Stadium—Noise Between the Hedges
Who let the dogs out? It doesn't matter who, just know that they are out and barking loudly.
The University of Georgia hasn't had much to cheer about lately, but when they do, they can be vocal about it.
Just shy of 93,000 when maxed out, it's bowl shape resonates when things get rocking. Built in 1929, like most stadiums, it has been expanded several times. The gloried hedges were added to the new stadium but removed in 1996 and replaced with shorter hedges.
It is the eighth-largest non-racing stadium in America.
14. Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium: High Altitude Noise
Located in Blacksburg, Virginia, the Hokies have several advantages besides sound that make this such a formidable stop for opposing teams.
In 2005 it made it to the top on Rival's list of best home advantage and was number two in ESPN's "Scariest Places to Play" list.
It is noisy but it has dropped in recent lists on noise alone. The other scary thing about this stadium is the elevation. The stadium is well over 2000 feet above sea level and visiting teams seem to tire out by the fourth quarter, due to not being acclimated to the higher altitude and thinner oxygen.
It is the highest-elevated stadium in the Eastern United States.
13. Clemson's Memorial Stadium: A Tiger's Den with a Roar
There are lots of stadiums known as Memorial Stadium, therefore most refer to Clemson's stadium as Death Valley, not to be confused with LSU's Deaf Valley.
With a maximum capacity of just over 80,000 it sounds like a lot more when the place gets rocking.
Why Death Valley? The stadium is built literally in a valley and there used to be a graveyard that overlooked the field before they added an end zone addition.
Opened in 1948, it got the nickname in that same year when an opposing coach tagged it with that name and the coach Frank Howard himself started calling it that in 1950, the name just stuck. And the famous rock you see players rub before they take the field?
That would be a huge rock brought back to the stadium from the real Death Valley in California. It is known as Howard's rock because it was given to coach Frank Howard.
12. Tennesee's Neyland Stadium: Lots of Noise on Old Rocky Top
There was a time when Neyland Stadium would be the noisiest stadium in America, but that was before the NCAA made them stop amplifying the stadium noise through the loud speakers to add to the volume.
With that gone and over 2000 seats removed, the volume and it's place on this list dropped, but it's still a very noisy place.
On a Saturday afternoon there are just over 102,000 people trying to sit, with enough space for 96,000. It is the most crowded stadium in football with the least square inches per seat of any college stadium.
Maybe that's why they are so noisy!
Built in 1921 it was the "Showcase of the South" and the Southern states first 100,000+ stadium. It began to fall in disrepair and some visiting coaches called it the "toliet bowl by the river" until a refurbishing took place.
Now it shines again and the noise continues to ring from it. With sellout crowds and waiting lists for tickets, it will continue to be noisy for a long time to come.
11. Daryl K. Royal/Memorial Stadium: Everything Big Is Not Noiser in Texas
Texas outside the top ten in noise? I may get death threats now. Texas fans won't agree or like the fact that someone put them outside, if just barely, of one of the top spots for crowd noise.
Maybe it's just the wide open spaces of Texas that spreads the sound around too much to make the top ten, but one television cameraman told me that he had always heard how noisy the crowds were in Texas but he honestly never heard it.
Perhaps the open end zones hurt it a bit, but the difference between number 11 and being in the top ten is very small and still a bit subjective, but I didn't find anyone placing it in the top picks.
Opened in 1924, it is one of the stadiums in the 100,000+ club seating, but just by the skin of the teeth of the 119 other people there. Like almost all stadiums, it has gone through many incarnations up to now.
With Jerry Jones' new stadium opened, Texas has the second-largest stadium in the state now, after being number one for many years.
10. Bryant Denny Stadium: New Enclosures Create New Noise Levels
People at Alabama weren't always the yelling type of people. The student section was loud, but many of the fans came to watch the game in silence with maybe a cheer for an extraordinary play now and again.
That was then and now the noise coming from the high-dollar seats rival that of the student section at times. Maybe there's just been more to yell and cheer about since Nick Saban arrived.
One thing that DID change for sure was the end zone enclosures. It created a bowl effect and every person from CBS Sports to ESPN has noticed the difference.
"I thought it was noisy before, but now there are times I still can't get directions through my noise-canceling headphones," one CBS cameraman told me at the game where the Tide blew out the Florida Gators.
The stadium opened in 1929 and has gone through many changes until now, where it can seat 101,821 people; and they've had crowds like that for spring practices!
It is the fifth-largest football stadium in the U.S., but only comes in at number 10 for noise. I guess Nick Saban has something else to work on now.
9. Michigan Stadium: "The Big House" Isn't the Biggest Noise Maker.
You can tell from others in the list that size doesn't matter when it comes to making the most noise of all, but it sure doesn't hurt.
Opened in 1927 and expanded since then, the 109,000 capacity makes this stadium the largest football stadium in the U.S. and like Alabama and other schools with large stadiums, they could sell more tickets if they just had the room for them.
Michigan is a classic "Bowl". There are no "upper decks" as there are at other stadiums, just one continuous climb to the nose bleed section.
Maybe this was rated low because the press box is up above the fray of the crowd and not in the middle of it as it is with some stadiums.
One television director told me that he had been to Michigan Stadium only to be disappointed in the noise level. He said maybe it was just the opponent, but he wouldn't have put them in a top ten list.
For trivia buffs, the Big House was also the first stadium with "official time" kept on an electronic scoreboard. The year? 1930!
8. Camp Randall Stadium, Home of the Wisconsin Badgers
"Shocking!" That was one cameraman's opinion of Camp Randall Stadium. "It's not a quiet place at all and the quietest it gets is when the bands perform at half time, the rest of the time everyone is yelling."
It was built in 1917, making it one of the oldest stadiums in America and the 80,321 person capacity makes it one of the smaller ones on this list so far, so why is it noisier?
The sheer insanity of the crowds is the main reason I've heard.
Need proof of the insanity?
According to every news agency I talked to, the yelling and vulgarity at the stadium is without equal.
Though I choose not to put vulgarities of my own in a story, the following is a direct quote from Wikipedia with one word sanitized for the protection of young readers.
The Chant aka P vs O
Like other schools, Badger fans perform a call-and-response chant before kickoffs; however, theirs is much more vulgar than many others. The most famous chant is between the upper classmen sections and the lower classmen in Section "O". During Steve Miller Band's Swingtown the song starts with a long "Ooooooh" which is followed a quick "sucks" by surrounding sections, then section "O" responds with a "$@^& You" then all sections reply with an "Eat Shit." Despite attempts by administration to rid the stadium of this chant in order to provide a more family-friendly atmosphere, profanities still abound at certain points during the game.
Perhaps now you can understand how a smaller crowd than others can get so much attention and be so loud.
7. Kyle Field, Home of the Texas A&M Aggies and Yell Practice
Kyle Field is like no other stadium. It is an oddly-designed stadium with two upper decks on the sides, one end zone enclosed and the other open.
Kyle Field patrons are like no other fan base. They oddly show up for "Yell Practice" to get ready for an all- out assault on the ears of the opponents.
They are a perfect pair!
The field itself was first used in 1904, but a stadium wasn't erected around it until 1927. It has a capacity of just over 83,000 people and for the trivia buffs out there, it had the first play-by-play broadcast over radio in 1921.
CBS rated it perfect in three categories: atmosphere, fans and tradition and other sports media have given them high marks in intimidation of visiting teams and best home field advantage.
The fan base there has many traditions and they are all versed in how and when to participate in them.
Perhaps why they make so much noise—they are all synchronized.
6. Beaver Stadium, Home of the Penn State Nittany Lions
A friend of mine once asked me why Penn State, the Nittany Lions, play in Beaver Stadium. I guess that could be confusing, but it is named for James Beaver, a former Governor and University Board of Trustees President.
So don't go to Beaver Stadium and expect to see a furry, buck-toothed mascot.
Built in 1909 and then taken apart, moved to the present location and re-assembled in 1960, it has the most curious history of any stadium.
It has been cut into sections, lifted on hydraulic lifts and reshaped many times.
It was literally falling apart in 2006 when most of the guard rails and support beams holding the stadium together were replaced.
Today it holds 107,282 fans and that places it in second on size alone.
There are some lists that put Beaver Stadium at the top of the list of noisiest stadiums, but it never actually was for the entire stadium; however, there is no noisier student section in the nation.
A home game at Penn State is widely thought of as one of the toughest venues for opposing teams. In 2008, Beaver Stadium was recognized as having the best student section in the country for the second consecutive year. Student ticket sales sell out every year in less than an hour and they come to the games and yell like no others.
5. Ohio State's "Shoe", the Noisiest Place in the State.
Built in the golden year of football stadiums, 1922, Ohio State's stadium kept growing until it reached just over 102,000; making it the fourth-largest football stadium in America.
It's odd shape gives it the nickname, "The Horseshoe," which is usually shortened to just "The Shoe".
For trivia buffs, it is one of the few stadiums with no lighting for night games. When such has occurred, they have had to bring in temporary lights.
Here, size matters and the noise this huge crowd reigns down on the makes it impossible for opposing quarterbacks voices to be heard calling snap counts. Iowa's Hayden Fry tried to get the referees to call penalties for "excessive noise" during one game.
The great thing about Ohio State's noise is it's consistency.
According to one television announcer, they yell if they're behind, they'll yell if they're ahead by 21, they just like to yell up there.
I guess that's how you make a list like this.
4. LSU's Tiger Stadium or as It's Better Known, Deaf Valley
Having personally attended games there—and night ones at that, this is a place where the fans holler louder at the moon than any coyote.
In one 1988 game the noise and bleacher stomping taking place at the stadium actually registered as an earthquake by seismic equipment miles away.
That should tell you what these people are capable of.
The stadium was built in 1925 and is just one of many "Tiger Stadiums," perhaps that's why it's more often called Deaf Valley.
It's capacity is 92,400 and it's almost always met if not surpassed.
Survey after survey has concluded that Tiger Stadium is the most difficult place for a visiting team to play, including surveys by the College Football Association in 1987, The Sporting News in 1989, Gannett News Service in 1995 and Sport Magazine in 1998. More recently, in 2007, ESPN named Tiger Stadium "the scariest place to play," saying that "Tiger Stadium is, by far, the loudest stadium in the country."
Nick Saban has said it is the noisiest venue he has ever been involved with and he's been to most of the other stadiums on this list.
3. "The Swamp," Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Home of the Florida Gators
Alabama players have told me that the people in this stadium are so close to you, that you can hear them talking about you when you're sitting on the bench.
That is true. Since Florida's "Swamp" has only 10 feet between parts of the sideline to the stands, the crowd is virtually right up on the players and the players have said it is deafening.
Crowd yelling has reached the 125 decibel level at the player's bench.
These top three positions are not "opinion" but measured scientific truths.
Built in 1930, it holds 93,128 on game day. It isn't just called the swamp because that's where Gators live, but because of the history of the construction.
It was built in a ravine and some of the seats were put in below ground level. During excavation for the field, they got below the water table and almost got mules stuck in the mire. That caused one reporter to write, "Florida is building a swamp for their team to play in." It stuck.
While the ground may be soft underneath the field, the fan's voices sure aren't and that's why Florida comes in at number three.
2. Autzen Stadium, Home of the Oregon Ducks, They Don't Stop Quacking There!
Though "official" capacity is 54,000, there somehow manages to be around 59,000 present for each home game there.
So how, can you ask, is such a relatively small crowd of making so much noise?
The answer is intensity.
Opened in 1967, it is one of the newer stadiums overall and was built under ground level. All that noise is yelling into a barrel. It is consistently said to be the noisiest stadium in America, but you can tell by it's number, it's not.
However here is a quote from a Michigan Daily writer, "Autzen's 59,000 strong make the Big House collectively sound like a pathetic whimper. It’s louder than any place I’ve ever been and that includes The Swamp at Florida, The Shoe in Columbus and Deaf Valley at Louisiana State. Autzen Stadium is where great teams go to die."
It registered a recorded 127.2 decibels on recording equipment, making it the second-noisiest stadium in America.
Number One! Husky Stadium, Home of the Washington Huskies
"Washington Stadium? They don't even make some lists and you have them at number one?" you may ask.
Yes, that's because everyone else was wrong as this list is right. It has been recorded twice at decibels levels just above the 135 range making it not my opinion, but scientific fact.
Built in 1920 and expanded several times, it now has a capacity of 72,500 of the noisiest people on the planet.
The unique design has 70% of all the seats on the sidelines and catch teams in a vicious crossfire of yelling. The big metal roof overhead acts as a speaker and reverberates it back down on the field. ESPN wanted to measure the sound levels themselves and got a 135 decibel reading just as Washington had told everyone they could do.
So you can argue over some of the positions, but the top three have scientific basis behind their positions.
For you trivia buffs, this is the birthplace of "The Wave." It was started here in 1981.
And That's All Folks!
Now, make plans to go to a game and see if you can help your fellow fans break a record and get on this list of move yourself up.
If you like this article you may like others by the same author. Go to Larry Burton's Site on Bleacher Report for other interesting articles, check the archives and enjoy.