Soccer Fans Will Be Heard Inside Music Hall: Report

Feb 5, 2019

Updated: 9:45 p.m.

A preliminary report says noise from an FC Cincinnati game at its soon-to-be-built stadium in the West End will be audible during performances in Music Hall's Springer Auditorium.

The report was co-commissioned by the Cincinnati Arts Association (CAA) and Music Hall's performing resident companies, including the Cincinnati Symphony.

CAA released the report - which you can read in full below - prepared by the firm Akustiks. It simulated conditions of a typical soccer match with a full stadium of 26,000 fans. It says crowd noise - for example, when the home team scores a goal - will exceed background noise in Music Hall by as much as 12 decibels. The report says it will not be audible in the May Festival Chorus rehearsal room, which has more sound isolation.

FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding says in a statement that when the team plays at UC's Nippert Stadium, it receives no complaints of noise at neighboring CCM.

"I have never received a single call of complaint from anyone from UC or CCM regarding noise disruption," Berding says, noting that he had "not been given the opportunity to review and discuss" the report with CAA. "Let me repeat, in three years of playing more than 50 matches at Nippert Stadium, in an open-design stadium with bigger crowds and closer proximity to arts venues, there have been NO complaints of noise." 

He notes the new stadium has a smaller crowd capacity and is farther away from Music Hall than Nippert is from CCM's auditoriums.

Tuesday evening, Akustiks issued a response to Berding's claims. When it comes to crowd size, the company said:

"The new FC Cincinnati Stadium seats 26,000. At maximum capacity, Nippert Stadium seats 40,000 (after the 2014 stadium renovation, according to published sources). Decibels are logarithmic values so multiple sound sources do not add using typical arithmetic, but rather logarithmic addition. Two 90 decibel sources do not therfore result in 180 dB, but rather 93 dB. The difference in sound pressure levels from multiple, like sound sources can be calculated by adding 10 times the logarithm of the number of sources to the sound pressure level of one source. 

"Calculating the difference in crowd noise on this basis reveals that the crowd noise in Nippert would be only 2 dB louder than that in the new stadium, a negligible difference."

Akustiks went on to say that comparing CCM to Music Hall is like "comparing apples and oranges." 

"CCM is a campus of buildings constructed new or renovated and adapted from other uses over the past 65+ years," the statement read. "The most recent major development project was completed in 1999 at a cost of $93.2 million. This project was undertaken after the completion of the Nippert Stadium renovation of 1992 that expanded its capacity to over 35,000 seats, so the acoustical designers of the CCM project would have been well aware of the stadium and would have designed appropriate noise control measures into the plans to mitigate stadium noise impacts to the greatest extent possible." 

In comparison, Akustiks notes how Music Hall was constructed in 1878 and said its most recent renovation was constructed in the context of the "largely residential West End noise environment as it was known in 2015." Discussions of a soccer stadium in the West End began last year. 

Akustiks' full response appears below its preliminary report. 

The final report and its findings are expected to be released next week.

Preliminary Report of Noise... by on Scribd

Akustiks' Response to F... by on Scribd