06 April 2006

Noise measurements inside the Coliseum

The measurements made last night will provide a baseline for measurements I'll make outside the Coliseum, China Basin, and other ballparks. The decibel (dB) scale is logarithmic like the Richter scale, so 70 dB can be interpreted as twice as loud as 60 dB. (There's a good primer on sound and noise propagation at Last night I measured crowd noise in the bowl at three different points: Section 137 of the LF bleachers, the concourse behind Section 107, and the 4th row of Section 203. I don't have a very sophisticated sound level meter that has real time logging or analysis capabilities, so take these measurements with a decent margin of error (± 3 dB) and several grains of salt. I used "A-weighting" for the measurements.
The ambient crowd noise in the seating bowl was in the 70-75 dB range when the crowd was idle. Drums and chants brought the noise up 5-8 dB. Between innings, the PA caused the range to be 75-82 dB. Compare that to the interior of a BART train (60 dB stopped/71 dB moving).

Readings from the bleachers (first three innings):
  • Giambi intro/BALCO chant: 92 dB
  • Giambi groundout to 1B: 99 dB
  • Matsui HR to RF: 96 dB spike, 92 dB roar
  • "Let Go ___" chant: 90 dB
  • First 2-2 pitch to Sheffield: 90 dB
  • Sheffield HR: 95 dB
Concourse behind 107, where a group of shrill young girls (A's fans) were chanting back-and-forth with another group of slightly less shrill young boys (Yankees fans).
  • Jeter drop/error: 101 dB
  • Bradley single, 2 RBI: 104 dB
  • Payton single: 104 dB
  • "Let's Go Oakland" chant: 96 dB
  • Kendall beats out DP: 102 dB
  • Bradley walks, scoring Ellis: 107 dB
  • "Yankees Suck" chant: 95 dB
  • Waiting in line for dollar dogs: 82-84 dB

Section 203. After the Scutaro single, many Yankees fans departed. The Thomas double begat a mass exodus. The readings:

  • Damon grounds out to Duke: 92 dB
  • "Take me out to the ballgame": 82 dB throughout, 88 dB climax
  • A-Rod K's: 94 dB
  • Giambi intro: 83 dB
  • Giambi flies out: 93 dB
  • Sharks highlight on DiamondVision: 91 dB
  • Bradley triple: 99 dB
  • Cano error, Payton safe: 104 dB
  • Kendall single: 98 dB
  • Scutaro RBI single: 101 dB
  • Thomas double, 2 RBI: 101 dB

Other readings taken elsewhere in the stadium:

  • Concourse behind the bleachers: 82 dB
  • Section 103 aisle during Dot Racing climax: 95 dB (proving that Dot Racing isn't the most cheered event at A's games)
  • BART bridge almost underneath southbound tracks before the game: 88 dB
  • BART bridge before game, middle: 75 dB
  • Standing platform in RF near flags, end of game: 89 dB
  • BART bridge after game near saxophone player but not while he's playing: 67 dB
  • When the sax guy is playing (I really should ask him to play "Take the A Train" more often): 77 dB
It's important to note that very few of these "events" lasted for more than 2-3 seconds. There was a slight trickle of people leaving as early as 9:00 p.m. Roughly half the crowd was left at the end.

I'll make the next measurements in the Giants-Astros series next week, on the promenade outside the ballpark and McCovey Point (the little park across Mission Creek from the stadium). These will be important because unlike the current Coliseum, China Basin is an open design that doesn't trap or absorb noise as well as the Coliseum.


Jeff said...

I have just returned home from the Yankee's A's series. At the end of the three game set I have reached an undeniable conclusion. The coliseum is an outdated, crumbling toilet. Day one I end up sitting in front of two of the most foul mouthed tobacco spitting idiots I have ever encountered. Spitting on the cement in front of them, these two morons never thought their secretions would flow down the steps and under other peoples feet. Or they didn't care, which is the more likely choice. On the stadium itself, how is it that park is built with the idea of channeling a cold wind down the seating area no matter where you sit. How is it possible for the flags in left and right field to blow in opposite directions?

While day two had issues, day three is the one that infuriates me the most. I am sitting on the first deck beneath the overhang. Today is the only game that has no rain forecast. Unless of course your me. My seat was constantly exposed to dripping water from above. I swear, I got wetter the third day than I did in the ninth inning of the second game. I also noted that the overhand was severely corroded. The most intriguing site to behold was an electrical conduit box absolutely pouring water. It was amazing. I kept expecting 30 or 40 people walking through the puddle to grab their chests and fall over.

No matter your opinion on where the team lands, the Coliseum itself is dilapidated.

Bleacher Dave said...

Dude, if you think the wind is cold now, you should have been there before they built Mt. Davis. THAT was an ill wind.

swirlinabc said...

My seats are just under the overhang (sec 120, row 30) and I really like them. Lots of great long-term season ticket holders, good view of the field, and no sunburn. My previous seats were in sec 122, row 23 and in full sun until about the 9th inning. Some people like sitting in the sun...different strokes for different folks. My wife and kids told me that if I renewed the tickets in the same location, they wouldn't join me. I moved to my current section and we couldn't be happier.

Perhaps, Jeff, you need to try out different seats in the park until you find one you like, then get season tickets to keep them. Based on my experience, not all the seats in the Coliseum are as bad as you describe.

Also, I may be a rarity, but I don't mind the stadium with Mt. Davis. Though we no longer have views of the rock quarry (now becoming high-end condos), I think walling in the park gave it a more intimate feel. Personally, I thought the openness without Mt. Davis made the park feel even more wide and foul. Cheers were simply lost out to the wind. At least with the outfield walls, cheers now bounce around and sound louder. Yeah, I'd like a new park, but until that day happens, I'll still come down to the park and keep on cheering on the A's. Part of the answer to getting a new park is proving to the city and owner that real fans do exist.

mom ferguson said...

my poor baby boy (38 yrs. old) needs a new stadium, please.

Jeff said...

I am seriously considering a patial season ticket purchase. I live in the central valley so a full ticket package is not really that practical. I like the coliseum as far as cost is concerned. But as the tempo of talk concerning a new stadium has increased, I started paying more attention to the state of the coliseum as it currently stands. I took the clubhouse tour during fan fest and I was struck by the general shabbiness of the dugout as well as the clubhouse itself. I really believe that the A's are not being self serving when they say they need a new park. The constant year round use of the coliseum is really becoming apparent in the maintenance of the park.

I will continue to support the A's no matter if they stay in the coliseum or not. I have to agree with the poster concerning sun exposure. A little bout with skin cancer will surely change ones view of sitting in the sun. I avoid it if at all possible. I never had the privledge of seeing a game sans Mt. Davis. I already feel as though I stepped in a meat locker on cool days....I can't imagine it being worse!!

Don't know what to make of Fergy's I won't make anything of it at all.

Did anyone get the impression that congestion on the main concourse was worse this year with the closing of the third deck? I noted that security blocked foot traffic around the park in the bleacher section until the third inning. I don't see the purpose in this. Also, the area where they sell the chicken strips continues to impede foot traffic. I can't believe the A's don't relocate this concession to another area of the park. Service seems slightly improved...but that wouldn't exactly be a terribly difficult feat.

All in all, I had a terrific time watching the A's put it to the Yanks. Not to mention the gloating I was able to engage in with my wife and teenage daughters on the way home.

swirlinabc said...


I too live in the Central Valley, Stockton to be specific. I purchased the weekend package with 40 games...kept the ones I wanted and am selling the remainder. We Valley folk need to stir up more support for the A's by word of mouth. The newspapers, radio, and TV do a poor job of promoting them, and the A's office staff haven't caught on that there's a whole potentially untapped market in our neighborhood.

One observation about the stadium sans 3rd deck. At least on opening night, the upper level concession stands were all open and markedly fewer lines than downstairs. I wonder if a lot of people assumed that they would all be closed.

Jeff said...


Stockton is bit closer to the bay than Fresno! Still, I am thinking of buying the big game pack. I better make my move soon I guess. Here in Fresno the A's marketing is non existent. Perhaps they write the city off because the Giants triple AAA affiliate play here. They stink something fierce. Never have a winning record. I often wonder if one of the contributing factors to the A's success is based on their minor league success. Winning is a habit forming thing. If you expect to usually do. I know the A's place a high value on organizational philosophy, and winning is one of the linchpins of that philosophy. Even in the low minors.

I took a stroll up to the third deck just to see if the concession stands were open. I had a feeling they would be. Money talks. I was going to ask ML if the A's ticket revenue has actually increased because of the closure. It struck me that if the A's average 25K per game, a lot of those fans purchased 8 dollar 3rd deck tickets. With that deck closed, those same 25K fans purchased the more expensive tickets. If this is the case, then the deck closure can be attributed to strictly economic considerations.

How many games of the 40 game package do you actually go to? Do you lose much money of tickets you can't sell?

swirlinabc said...

I find it quite odd that even though Stockton is only about an hour away, and that the Stockton Ports are an A affiliate of the A's, marketing for the team is also non-existent.

My personal opinion is that the Stockton Record favors the Giants. A few years ago, I collected newspaper statistics for a month...who's team made the front page of the sports section, who's team got a news clip on the front page, etc. I found it very interesting that if both teams won, the Giants got the more prominent coverage. If both teams lost, the A's got more coverage. I wrote a letter of complaint and shared the statistics. Since then, the coverage wasn't quite as blatant, but still favored the Giants.

As for my season tickets, I end up attending about 10 games a year and sell the rest off. The first year, I sold all my games by February. Last year, I ended up with 1 or 2 unsold games and ended up going to one, and giving one to my sister. This year, I still have 7 unsold games, and I've already exchanged 2 games (this Friday and Easter) for other dates because there were no takers. I love my season tickets, but if this trend keeps up, I will have to give strong consideration to renewing next year. Of course, if the team does well this year, it may make it easier to sell tickets in 2007.

If you order season tickets, give some thought to section 120. It's a friendly section. At row 30, we're just under the overhang and get shade for the whole game.