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Chiefs to begin season with prerecorded crowd noise at Arrowhead Stadium

Across the league, every team will be required to pipe in crowd noise for their games.

NFL: JAN 20 AFC Championship Game - Patriots at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs will kick off the 2020 NFL season this Thursday night against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Chiefs are among only five teams that will begin the season with fans in their stadiums — in the case of Kansas City, somewhere between 16,000 and 17,000 — but according to NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero, there will be one new guest in every NFL stadium this year: piped-in crowd noise.

So an idea once considered scandalous at NFL games — prerecorded crowd noise — will be standard operating procedure during the topsy-turvy 2020 season. The league is providing a stadium-specific recording of crowd noise to every team — and this recording must be played at a required level of 70 dB throughout every game, except during injury timeouts, quarter, halftime and commercial breaks.

The league is even mandating that when music is played in the stadium while the crowd noise is running, the combined level of the music and crowd noise must not exceed 75 dB. A league official will be on the sidelines to monitor these levels. Teams that fail to follow the mandates — or manipulate the “league-curated” audio — will be subject to fines, suspensions or even lost draft picks.

At least at the beginning of the season, stadiums that are allowing fans (such as Arrowhead) will still be required to play these recordings. The NFL says that it will re-evaluate the policy for stadiums that admit fans “as the season progresses.”


So just how loud is 70 db?

For the level to be measured at 70 dB at the sideline, remember that it will be substantially louder in some parts of the stadium — that is, closer to the loudspeakers — because perceived sound levels decrease by half over each doubling of distance. You can go out on the Internet and find charts that show the relative loudness of different environments. They’ll give you different answers, but 70 dB is somewhere around an office environment, a busy highway 50 feet away or a vacuum cleaner 10 feet away.

The Chiefs experimented with recorded crowd noise during their final training camp practice at Arrowhead Stadium last Saturday — presumably somewhere close to the level the NFL will be requiring — drawing a reaction from Fox4’s Harold Kuntz.

And according to Kuntz, there was a fan reaction when it was turned off.

Welcome to the 2020 NFL season.