Posted January 15, 2014

What makes Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field the most raucous stadium in the league?

NFC West, NFL Playoffs, Seattle Seahawks
CenturyLink Field owns the Guinness world record for loudest outdoor stadium.

CenturyLink Field owns the Guinness world record as the loudest outdoor stadium. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Think of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field like a child, one that grows up and graduates from law school. That is how AECOM’s Jon Niemuth views his design and the recognition it now gets for creating pure noise. He did all that work to get it there, but never quite knew how it would all turn out. CenturyLink has graduated, certainly, building a fact-based resume as one of the — if not the – loudest outdoor stadiums in all of sports.

And it was by design.

When Seahawks’ owner Paul Allen first met with Niemuth, Allen wanted the collegiate, roaring atmosphere he basked in growing up attending games in the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium. Niemuth obliged, bringing a stadium design to the NFL in 2002 that takes the raucousness provided by the fans and accentuates it. Now Seattle celebrates noise.

GLENNON: What it’s like to play in the noise at CenturyLink Field

The Seahawks have set the Guinness world record for loudest outdoor stadium twice this year; the latest measurement coming at 137.6 decibels after Kansas City fans broke Seattle’s first record. And we all know about the little earthquakes that the fans set off by shaking the stadium. But how did we get there?

Some equate stadium noise to small, compact venues. Only part of that statement is true. CenturyLink offers compactness: it’s built on the smallest footprint of any NFL stadium with heavily steeped seating close to the field. But it isn’t small. At 67,000 seats, Niemuth said containment, not size, proves primary. “If you’re trying to create a container,” he said, “the bigger the cup you can make it the better.”

Open air proves the biggest threat to noise, soaking up the decibels. But the Seahawks covered 70 percent of all seats — also to protect fans from the often rainy weather — serving to deflect fan-generated noise back toward the field. And in a joyous “unintended” result, the exact curvature of those big-roof parabolas coupled with the seating bowl design “keep the sound focused inward” at an even better clip than anticipated.

Once it starts getting loud in CenturyLink, it creates a “sustained momentum like riding a bike” that continues to build, Niemuth said. The added element of the Hawk’s Nest bleachers in the north end zone provide some aluminum-generated fun, adding a new element to pound on the field.

“The home-field advantage at CenturyLink, their home winning percentage in the playoffs being better than anyone, their regular-season home winning percentage, the Guinness Book of World Records thing, there are so many things,” Niemuth said, leaving out the fact CenturyLink leads the league in most false-start penalties by the opposition. “CenturyLink is starting to take on that reputation … like a cathedral.” That is, a cathedral of noise.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and tech for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb

86 comments
Go Saints
Go Saints

If the noise is directed towards the field, some of it should escape to the outside, so why is it louder than a domed stadium where the noise is contained?

wapatowolf
wapatowolf

Ha! keep hating! We have the best team, fans and stadium in the league. Go Hawks!!

Altitude5280
Altitude5280

There will not be a "12th Man" at the Super Bowl.

x72
x72

Seadderall Seachickens

Sheattle Seahags

Seattle SuckHawks

Scumattle SheHawks

HighCardWins
HighCardWins

In a week people will forget Seattle even has a pro football team.


What's the over/under on Seattle's suicide rate come Monday?

Frotoon
Frotoon

Seahawks were 6-2 on the road, tied for best road record of the season, so stop focusing on the noise. They're a damn good team.

rentistoohigh
rentistoohigh

Since the implosion of the Steel industry in Pittsburgh decades ago...it gave rise to the phrase 


"Steeler fans are everywhere"


like immigrants...only slightly more legal


as opposed to the misguided idea  "Steeler fans travel well"


Point being.....Niner fans want one more ring so they can claim scoreboard as far as Super Bowl win percentage  (the Ravens world order handed them first first loss last year)


On that basis...any Steeler fans in the area or at the stadium...or both...should be rooting for the Seahawks...and they be loud,  rowdy...sloppy and boisterous...


an extra weapon...

Mike26
Mike26

This story was tiresome LAST season.  Will be glad this is the last week we'll have to hear about it - no matter the outcome  of the game.

Merv
Merv

It is not the peak noise, every stadium has a few on those moments, it is the loud and continuous roar for the entire length of the game.  No other fan base sustains the volume for four quarters.

TonySooners
TonySooners

Props to KC fans for breaking the record without the help, Arrowhead is just a plain bowl stadium built in the early 70's.

101philosopha101
101philosopha101

As an Eagles fan, watching the pathetic Linc and its road-field advantage there, everything is so friggin' cozy for the road team.  Lurie, Roseman and those idiots are for sure kicking themselves for not creating a stadium like Centurylink.  Seattle's got a huge advantage and it's going to stay an advantage for about 20 yrs. until teams start building new stadiums.

Zeshan
Zeshan

OK, as a long-time Seattle resident and 'Hawks fan, I'll finally put this rumor to right. While the "CLink" certainly has architectural advantages regarding noise, what makes it so loud is that the turf is actually a *living creature*. When athletes run on the surface with their cleats (and if you look closely, you'll notice that 'Hawks players' cleats are *just* a little longer), that creature screams. If you've ever been to the CLink when there isn't a game and run on the field, it's a haunting, scary noise. One day I expect "CLINKOR" to just swallow up opposing teams whole. Scary stuff.  But now you know.

Joe R2
Joe R2

The hidden speakers pumping in the fake noise are also a big factor...

rentistoohigh
rentistoohigh

Think building a football stadium in the middle of the tarmac at Sea Tac airport


that covers the noise


then the fans right on top of you...and the low atmospheric ceiling


fans dressed up like green eco terrorists


Ok ...like playing inside a partly open and wet Boeing jet engine


yeah ...that might explain it...  

MariaKirchner
MariaKirchner

I lived in Seattle for 20 years and this is by far the best team they have put together.Noise or no noise they will take care of the 49ers.Wilson is a very classy guy and helps the under privileged,which is more than I can say for Knucklehead.He uses the whole Superman thing,Why ?? And when he was talking to the press he stated"Your Mama". Yeah,that,s real classy.As for the owner having a lot of money to build this stadium-So what ! He also has donated millions to help with brain injuries and numerous charities.The fans will also take care of Knucklehead for his lame commercial depicting Seahawks fans as mean and cruel as in throwing eggs and peeing on the bus.What a wonderful example for his team !! Go Hawks !!!!

krispuffin
krispuffin

While the design of the stadium helps keep the noise in, it is worth noting that Husky Stadium across town is cited for having recorded the loudest crowd noise ever at a college game, at 133.6 decibels.  That tells me its more about the fans than the architecture!  

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

A domed stadium would be louder, if the fans yelled as loud.


TheHip1
TheHip1

The loudest stadium I have ever been to (Hawks vs Cowboys wild card game), my ears rang for days afterwards-you could feel the sound in your body. Sitting at home watching on tv has nothing on being there live. I expect it to be the loudest ever on Sunday. 

x72
x72

Well most of their fans are harpies, so there's that.

SouthWestYankee
SouthWestYankee

Without the 12th man, they are pretty ordinary. Teams will figure out a way around the 12th man, then they will have to be on their toes.... 

FortyFkinNiners
FortyFkinNiners

@rentistoohigh  "any Steeler fans in the area or at the stadium... they be loud,  rowdy...sloppy and boisterous..."


Wouldn't Steeler fans be like that anyway?

DarinPike
DarinPike

@Merv Not really fair to say the 12th Man sustains the volume for four quarters. We quiet down when our offense is on the field.


DiamondMask
DiamondMask

@Joe R2 

The excuse of people who support teams whose fans yell like little girls...........

You don't think Guinness would have looked into that genius?

Merv
Merv

@Joe R2 They are not speakers, they are NSA microphones.

DanMcNemar
DanMcNemar

Lmfao as Sean Payton about trying to recreate the noise he blew 2 speakers, it's not electronics it's passion from the fans!!!!

Joe R2
Joe R2

@MariaKirchner 


So the Seahawks are going to win because Wilson is a classy Jesus freak and Kaep is a "thug"?  Save it

danpeterson49
danpeterson49

@MariaKirchner  Hey chuckle head. Kapernick is also involved in the local community and helps charities like Camp Taylor. The "Your mama" comment was directed at Anquan Boldin and was a joke. It was them acting like reporters Boldin asked Kap "Why did it take you so long to throw it to Anquan Boldin" and Kap replied "Because he was talking about my mama" see a joke between teammates. 

As for the commercial, it was not "his" it was a Beats by Dre commercial and that is just their stick. 


Both Russell Wilson and Colin Kapernick are good people who do lots of work for charity and in their local communities so insult the football player if you wish but don't insult the person.


DavidMario
DavidMario

@krispuffin 


Thank you for that info.  I wasn't aware of it.  Helps confirm my belief that it's more about the fans than the stadium.   As far as the aluminum seating 'deflecting noise' that goes out the door once you fill the stadium with people. 

DiamondMask
DiamondMask

@x72

49er fans are sour grape losers, so there's that. Get ready for some more!

Joe R2
Joe R2

@DiamondMask @Joe R2 


Don't get your caffeinated panties in a bunch Diamond.  We are just teasing you sensitive babies.  Waaaah

MariaKirchner
MariaKirchner

@danpeterson49@MariaKirchner 

Don't care if it was a joke,it was in poor taste,just like the commercial.He knew Exactly the content of the commercial and chose to do it anyway-Like I said no class !! Also in poor taste was the Superman thing.This is my opinion,you can take it or leave it.

jorgecapulejr
jorgecapulejr

@MariaKirchner 


"Never once did I say that,"


"Just stating an opinion."


so did you say that or did you not say that.. convince yourself first.

RobKnorr
RobKnorr

@DominicPaz @MariaKirchner @danpeterson49 Pointing out that a commercial that depicts Seahawks fans as urinating on a bus, is in poor taste, is whining?
Huh...I didn't think it even had to be pointed out that the Dre commercial was in poor taste, I thought that anyone with any self respect and discernment already knew that.


That's a far cry from "whining" though, and of course you knew that and were just trying to engage in trash talk. Wasn't very good though was it?

PhD
PhD

@MariaKirchner @DominicPaz @danpeterson49 


Just come back here on Sunday night or Monday morning if they lose, ok? Every week 'experts' like you trash talk about how you're gonna win and every week after you lose you disappear back into the woodwork.

joberg812
joberg812

Wow, the two niner fans on this thread are doing a really good job of making all SF fans look like morons.

joberg812
joberg812

You make niners' fans look stupid with that stat. Are you trying to say that the niners are better than the Hawks b/c they didn't get a first round bye or home field advantage, like the Hawks did, and therefore had to play two road playoff games that they happened to win?

DanMcNemar
DanMcNemar

Bahahahahaha only reason why they have 2 more road wins is because they AREN'T the best team in the division, let alone the conference!!!! Come see the CHAMPS on Sunday!!!!

hiptoss
hiptoss

@TonySooners Every fan of every team except the 49ers is so sick of hearing about that roughing penalty.  It didn't guarantee anything for the Saints.  That call happened with more than 3 minutes left.  If the Saints call a couple timeouts, and the 49ers go 3-and-out like they had most of the 4th quarter, the Saints have a mountain of time to still march down the field and win.  Have you forgotten already that the possession after the field goal the Saints got on that drive, the 49ers went 3-and-out again?  Blame the 49er's mediocre offense for the loss, not a single call that had little impact on the final score.

TonySooners
TonySooners

@crikeynick @astorianq @beastmode206 @SouthWestYankee They were so good...LOL Don't you realize that a RTP penalty is the difference in who got homefield and who didn't?  If Brooks isn't flagged vs. the Saints, the 49ers actually had a better West record.  But the 'Hawks are "so good".   

crikeynick
crikeynick

@astorianq@beastmode206@SouthWestYankeeWhat? You can't compare their road records and say the 49ers are automatically better because there isn't an equal sample size, the Seahawks were so good they didn't have to play extra road games in the playoffs