BYU physics students find LaVell Edwards Stadium to be just short of painfully loud

Published: Thursday, Sept. 5 2013 1:35 p.m. MDT

BYU fans celebrate during the first half as Brigham Young University plays Weber State University in football Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, in Provo, Utah. A recent study showed that the sound in LaVell Edwards stadium can exceed at times 120 decibels.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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Over the years, fans have had plenty to cheer about at LaVell Edwards Stadium. During the Bronco Mendenhall era, BYU was 74-30, an average of more than nine wins per season.

The Cougars have been to eight straight bowl games for the first time since they ran off 17 consecutive bowls invitations from 1978 through 1994. Mendenhall has also achieved more wins in his first 100 games than any other BYU head coach, including Hall of Famer LaVell Edwards.

And how loud do the cheers in the stadium actually get? Physics students at BYU wanted to find that out.

While BYU was installing a new stadium sound system two years ago, professor Kent Gee took the opportunity to help his students put theories of sound propagation into practice.

The goal of his project was real world-experience for students, as well as determining the best possible locations for the speakers. One student, Alan Wall, measured the sound environment in the stadium during football games.

“It was awesome to be able to move around the stadium with a sound level meter, and to see and hear the game and the PA system from so many vantage points,” Wall said.

According to a BYU news release, students also mapped out how far and how loud the sound from the speakers radiated outside LaVell Edwards Stadium. Their analysis showed that keeping the speakers at the north end zone was ideal because the sound would radiate across campus and away from surrounding neighborhoods.

The sound system wasn't the only improvement BYU recently added to the stadium. Last year, BYU installed two video screens, measuring 35 feet high by 50 feet wide, which encircle the north and south sides of the stadium, to display real-time statistics.

"It's all part of a continual effort to improve the game-day experience," said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe.

"I want (the fans) to come fill our stadium because of the experience of not only watching the game, the game-day experience, but also why we are playing the game," Mendenhall said. "We continue to try to make LaVell Edwards Stadium a fantastic experience.”

Fans seemed to enjoy the features, as the university sold more season tickets in 2013 than in any other year since 2003. According to BYU athletic media relations, there was close to a to a 97 percent renewal rate from last year.

Justin is a recent graduate of the University of Utah. Email: jgiles@deseretnews.com

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