Vikings Stadium Found To Be Harmful To Human Hearing

100px-Minnesota_Vikings_logo.svgThere was an interesting story recently where Minnesota experts have warned that the new Vikings stadium could be injurious to the hearing of fans. There has been an increasing push in stadium design to match the ear splitting levels of the Seahawks in fans drowning out the calls of opposing teams. However, it appears that the “twelfth man” could be rendered stone deaf in Minneapolis. While the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority said ear plugs will be available at guest services at U.S. Bank Stadium, it could present an interesting torts case for those who find their hearing reduced by attending a Vikings game.

Fans have already noticed the the stadium is ear-splitting and experts have said it may be a danger to hearing. A local radio station measured the sound during the soccer match at U.S. Bank Stadium reaching over 105 decibels. That is ten times louder than the current average of any NFL stadium. Just 85 decibels can damage ear cells.

US_Bank_Stadium_-_West_FacadeThe question is whether a posted warning will alone satisfy the liability of the stadium if it is fully aware that sound is 20 decibels above the level viewed as damaging to the human ear. While Viking berserkers were known to go into battle with little armor, they appear to have valued their ability to hear.

We previously discussed potential liability for the Cowboys in creating black marble benches in the Texas sun.

Is it negligence or a design defect for a stadium to have acoustics that are expected to exceed such safe levels for human hearing? Sounds is one of the most critical elements in stadium design so the acoustics must clearly have been known and likely intended by the designers. Indeed, the stadium website brags that the stadium is designed to be louder (a statement that could prove useful for a future plaintiff):

While the final determination on the ETFE’s effect on crowd noise is still being studied, stadium architects say ETFE is a more “acoustically reflective material” than the Metrodome’s fabric roof and “should make the stadium louder.” Furthermore, the new stadium is entirely enclosed, including one half of the roof being a metal deck, and with the closest fans just 41 feet from the sideline, Vikings fans will be as close to the action as any NFL stadium. The difference is that the first row of seats will be elevated an average of seven feet off field level, or roughly twice the typical height of NFL stadiums, giving the fans in the first several rows optimal sightlines and allowing them to be more engaged. The reality is that fans truly make the difference in terms of noise, which is why stadiums like the Metrodome, Green Bay’s Lambeau Field and Seattle’s CenturyLink Field are some of the toughest for visiting teams to have success.

Now that would be an interesting statement to read to a jury in some class action case involving fan hearing loss. There is always elements of assumption or comparative negligence in such cases, particularly with warnings printed on tickets or posted in the stadium. However, this appears a design that was intended to amplify sound and succeeded to a level that most fans are unlikely to appreciate until they have ringing in their ears.

What do you think?

16 thoughts on “Vikings Stadium Found To Be Harmful To Human Hearing”

  1. Try a Final Four basketball game with clapping hands from the guy behind you moving the hair on the back of your head they’re so close. All while in a converted football stadium, not really made for viewing basketball anyway.

  2. I really wonder about employees in these stadiums – you know, the vendors who are cruising up and down the aisles. Aren’t they being exposed *AT WORK* to dangerous levels of noise? If they wear hearing protection, they can’t respond as well to customers. Seems like an OSHA violation waiting to be written. Same actually, for players.

    Football games stopped being fun for me because of the loud music blasting almost constantly. Add in sloppy-drunk and aggressive fans, and it became down right dangerous. Almost as bad was that the music started leaning more heavily toward hip-hop and rap, which I was afraid would also give me brain damage.

  3. The stadium in Seattle coupled with the fan base is documented as the loudest of the NFL.

    Liberals of the world ….UNITE. Just try and sue to quiet the 12th Man. Our liberals are bigger than your liberals….and have little in common with other liberals when the Hawks are in town.

  4. I used to attend one Seahawks game per year. The last time I went it was so loud that it was nauseating. It just wasn’t fun anymore.

  5. Some history is in order. The Vikings and Twins used to play in the Metrodome. Actually it was the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome so you know it was a boondoggle. The stadium was enclosed w/ a teflon roof. It collapsed once from snow, thankfully no one was inside. As bad a stadium it was, it was a distinct home field advantage, at least for the Twins, who are a solid organization and field good teams in a small market city. I had the honor of being at the best baseball game I ever attended. It was Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. The Kirby Puckett walk off homer game. It was so loud you could not converse. The loudness was encouraged by the team BLARING music to get people to chant “HEY!” I knew what to expect. There were some Atlanta Braves fans sitting in front of us that were overwhelmed w/ the noise. My friends and I were still having to yell @ each other for an hour after leaving. We all had tinnitus for several hours.

  6. I can understand ‘why’ there would be lawsuits; lawyers exist. What I don’t understand is ‘why’ they would win. Every person that attends an event in that stadium capable of making an informed decision WILL be informed that the noise level may be harmful to their hearing. Enter at your own risk and if you choose to you waive the opportunity for hearing protection then that is on you.

    Go Vikes!

  7. Just establish an assumption of risk situation. Signage, disclosure on tickets, informed consent, etc., etc.

    Listen to the games on the radio.

  8. Well, as a person who may have been a cheer leader in a former life, I can say that the game has gone down hill nowadays. Oh for the good old days of, Rah Rah Ree! Kick them in the knee! Rah Rah Rass! Kick them in the other knee! Now, it’s just unorganized screaming and hollering. Anyway, an Irish Poem to the stupid cheeseheads who built this stadium this way on purpose!

    Cheering Loss???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    Alas, for the Rah! Rah! Siss Boom!
    The modern game ain’t got the room.
    And, now we got these
    With their heads full of cheese,
    And th — —- __—__–_—_–_–___–__—-!!!

    Darn, the last line couldn’t be heard over all the noise! Too bad. It was a doozy!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. eddiestinson – at that noise level you could not do any critical thinking. 😉

  9. This is a class-action suit waiting to happen. I am surprised it passed inspection.

  10. I hope they get flooded with lawsuits. I’m an old guy now but I’ve attended countless ballgames over the decades but quit when the noise and distractions became intolerable. And that’s not to mention the insanity of blasting music whenever they can find an excuse.

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