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Posted on Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 6 a.m.

Now hear this: A built-up Michigan Stadium should keep sound from fans and speakers inside

By Michael Rothstein

Photo: Michigan Stadium is taller, but will that make it louder when fans cheer? (Lon Horwedel |
Stan Parrish thought back to the 1997 Ohio State-Michigan football game. Then Michigan’s quarterbacks coach, he remembered trying to talk with quarterbacks Brian Griese and Tom Brady while on the sidelines.

It didn’t work too well.

“I always liked the presence about it,” said Parrish, now Ball State’s head coach. “I thought it was plenty loud.”

Of course, Michigan beat Ohio State that year, 20-14, so there was reason for Michigan Stadium to live up to its Big House name instead of the Big-but-sometimes-vacant-sounding-House that the bowl could be during non-rivalry games.

Now, though, the thought is it won’t be an issue. As part of a $226 million reconstruction of the stadium that will be finished by August 2010, Michigan installed glass panels on its boxes at the top of the new concourses that should push sound back toward the field.

“What they’ve done will make it considerably louder,” said Eastern Michigan coach Ron English, a former Michigan assistant. “It’s not that they don’t cheer in there, but the sound escapes. So they’ve done what I think, what they’ve done will certainly enhance the sound.”

When Michigan ran tests on the sound in Michigan Stadium earlier this year, it wasn’t done to test how loud the 100,000-plus seat structure could get when the Wolverines’ defense is on the field, but rather to make sure every nook and cranny of the place could actually feel the sound.

“What we were doing is testing out the theory of where the dead spots would be based on the new sound system in the north end zone scoreboard,” Michigan executive associate athletic director Michael Stevenson said. “There was an engineering study more than anything else.”

Stevenson said the reports are good and he doesn’t think there’ll be any dead zones in the stadium when the sound system is installed for the 2010 season.

As far as the crowd noise, Stevenson made it sound like further testing won’t be needed and that they’ll find out throughout the 2009 season how much louder it is.

The noise level, much like any stadium not named Autzen in Eugene, Ore., or Lane in Blacksburg, Va., remains at least partly the responsibility of the fans and the on-field product. But the thought is that when fans cheer this year, it’ll at least stay inside the stadium instead of wandering out to Main Street.

“We’ve got a very educated fan base and when you need them, down through the years, those fans have always been there,” former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. “Now, with that said, the stadium is going to be much, much louder this year because the windows are into the boxes and it’s in my judgment based on what I heard last fall and what I see, I don’t think there’s going to be a louder stadium in the country.

“Unless it’s Oregon.”

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or on Twitter @mikerothstein.


U-M, B.S., 1994

Wed, Aug 26, 2009 : 11:40 a.m.

Tiger182, you are either sitting in the wrong section or swearing a lot. I have attended most home games since 1990 and I think that the crowd overall has gotten louder and more into the game in recent years. I think that part of it is that the cheerleaders actually lead the crowd in cheers! That may sound silly, but when I was a student, that wasn't the case. I also think that students as a whole are more into the game and much louder than in years past. I think there's been a "trickle-down" effect from that. They join the band in their cadences and cheer a lot more. In my day, for a lot of students it was more about getting drunk and throwing marshmallows, than watching the game and cheering the team. The only thing I am against is doing the wave when our team's on offense!


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 5:05 p.m.

Out of the many games I've been to I've never been nor have I seen anyone being shushed or asked to sit down. The crowd was loud vs. Northwestern and EMU mostly it's about how sound diffuses. A large bowl stadium loses sound. There's not much for the sound to bounce off of to stay in the stadium.


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 12:36 p.m.

I don't know how much of an advantage it will give UM when the opposing team hears "down in front."

Tailgate Jim

Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 11:19 a.m.

Every technique in the book needs to be used to win games. Does silence fall over the crowd at a home basketball game when the visiting team shots a freethrow???


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 7:39 a.m.

Glad to hear it, Sam. With new improved atmosphere to go along with an improved offense and defense, things should be looking way up this year.


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 7:33 a.m.

We'll make a glorious noise, As we prop our Maize 'n Blue boys. All the blue hairs in town Will cheer Carlos Brown, And no longer maintain their poise! 1. Trouble with Navy. 2. Southern Cal 41 spucks 20 3. Unravel 4. RR 34 vest 13

Hot Sam

Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 7:01 a.m.

As one of the team that built the current sound system I can tell you with authority that the difference will be dramatic.


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 6:48 a.m.

I have been going to the stadium since the 70s and I have never been told to be quiet. Sit down some times but never, have I been shushed for just cheering the team on.


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 6:26 a.m.

Louder? The fans actual have to make noise in order to keep any noise in. I don't know how many times I get shushed in that stadium.