Major college football programs have stadiums that can have capacities upwards of 100,000 in some cases, with many of them playing in venues that hold at least 70,000 fans. Putting that many people into one building simultaneously can make for very loud environments.
Here’s a look at some of the loudest stadiums in college football, according to noise levels measured by the schools since no official lists exist.
The advantages of having a loud stadium
Before we take a look at the loudest stadiums, let’s explore the advantages of such venues. Having a noisy stadium benefits the home team because the fans often get loud when the opposition is on offense and the quarterback is trying to relay the play to his teammates.
The noise makes it harder for the players to communicate with one another and to hear what play the team is running. Having a stadium filled with cheering fans can also give the home team’s players more motivation to play hard knowing there are tens of thousands of people cheering for them.
Husky Stadium (Seattle, Washington)
Husky Stadium has been the home of the Washington Huskies since it first opened in 1920. Through a series of renovations and expansions, the current capacity for football games is 70,083.
It has reached a decibel level of 133.6, which is approximately the noise level of a jackhammer or jet engine according to the decibel level chart. At such a high decibel level, you reach the daily exposure limit in roughly 90 seconds.
Death Valley (Clemson, South Carolina)
The Clemson Tigers play at Frank Howard Field at Clemson Memorial Stadium, which is often called by the nickname Death Valley. It is the largest stadium in the ACC.
Its capacity is 81,500, but its attendance record was more than 86,000 for a Florida State-Clemson game in 1999. It has recorded a decibel level of 132.8.
Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
The LSU Tigers call the appropriately named Tiger Stadium home — and what a home it is with a capacity in excess of 100,000. Definitely a far cry from the 12,000 capacity when the facility opened in 1924.
Back when the capacity was that small, the crowd probably wouldn’t register that high on the decibel scale. Now, though, it’s a different story as Tiger Stadium has reached a level of 130 decibels.
Notably, in 1988 when LSU scored a touchdown late in the game to take the lead against Auburn. The ensuring cheer from the crowd shook the stadium so much that it registered as an earthquake on the school’s seismograph.
Beaver Stadium (University Park, Pennsylvania)
Beaver Stadium’s seating capacity of 106,572 makes it the third-largest stadium in the world. The Penn State Nittany Lions have played their home games here since 1960. With the strong pedigree of Penn State’s football program, there have been many moments that have caused the fans to cheer over that time. The venue has measured a decibel level of 122, which is roughly as loud as an ambulance siren or a rock concert.
Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
With a capacity of 107,601, Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the United States and the second biggest in the world, so it has earned its nickname of the Big House.
As you can probably tell by the name, it’s the home of the Michigan Wolverines. Given the team’s popularity, Michigan Stadium has had crowds of at least 100,000 for more than 200 consecutive Wolverine football games, with a record crowd of 115,109 for a game against Notre Dame in 2013.
Somewhat surprisingly given the capacity, the stadium has reached “just” 110 decibels, which is roughly the same noise level as a chainsaw, jetski, or drumline.