Monday, March 5, 2007

The Rain In Seattle Falls Mainly On The Visitors

Fascinating article by Russell Adams at the WSJ describing teams' concerted efforts to make stadiums more hostile to visiting players. Qwest Field is notorious for elevated levels of crowd noise. But I had no idea that the Seahawks got a weather advantage too:

In addition to contracting engineers to make sure that the wind and rain would disproportionately hit the visitors' sideline, [the stadium's architect] placed the cheapest endzone seats (where, he says, the "crazies" sit) atop steel risers that send thundering noise to the hard surfaces on the overhangs and roof, redirecting it back to the field.

I remember a few years back when an employee of the Metrodome turned on vents to help Twins' fly balls become home runs. And in recent years college football's SEC conference and the NFL have both legislated against artificial noisemakers. The NFL's rulebook even has a section devoted to phrases that may not appear on jumbotrons: "Pump it up" and Let's go crazy" are both prohibited.

We've witnessed an arms race with respect to new football stadium construction. The pink taco has a roll-out natural grass field. The Cowboys' new venue will have a 60-yard-long HD scoreboard. But after the Seahawks' success in their new super-loud digs (29-11 since moving to Qwest Field!), you can expect other teams building new homes to ratchet up the acoustics - and especially the weather - to extend their own home-field advantage to Seattle-like levels.

What can the NFL do about this? Seems like the seahawk has flown the coop.


Mike said...

Don't forget how the Giants staff used to open the doors of the stadium to help their field goal kicker (high winds would come through the doors).

Anonymous said...

By, "contracting engineers to make sure that the wind and rain would disproportionately hit the visitors' sideline," do you mean designating the east sideline as the visiting team's? Do you know how many engineers that took?

Quality said...

The passage was quoted directly from the WSJ article, so I can't guarantee what it means.

But if engineers can determine which way sound waves will travel within an open-air stadium, I have no doubt they can design a building such that more rain and wind hits one side of the field than the other.

Once that's done, of course it's easy to know that the visitors should occupy that side.