FC Cincinnati Stadium Noise Could Impact Music Hall

Andy Berg Headshot

 A planned 24,000-seat soccer stadium may produce more noise that surrounding venues will tolerate, according to a preliminary report by acoustics experts.

The reports, which was commissioned by the Cincinnati Arts Association, found that sounds from FC Cincinnati games played at the team’s coming West End stadium will be audible inside Music Hall, which is home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and other arts organizations.

According to City Beat, FC Cincinnati’s $250 million West End stadium is situated just one block north of Music Hall, and acoustics experts found that crowd noise and amplified music from games played there could be disruptive to performances and rehearsals.

"Crowd noise from soccer matches will be readily audible in Springer Auditorium," the study from Connecticut-based Akustiks LLC concludes about Music Hall's main performance space. "The model predicts that at its peak (fans responding to a home team goal, for example), crowd noise will exceed the background noise in Music Hall by between as much as 12 dB at some frequencies. This noise would be readily audible by the audience and the performers and would interfere with the subtle moments of performances by the resident companies." 

Aside from game noise, the report also looked at the impacts of live, amplified music coming from the venue should the West End stadium host concerts.

"Unlike the crowd noise impacts from soccer matches, which are focused on mid and low frequencies (i.e., the peak of the human vocal range), the impacts from amplified concerts in the stadium would be evident across much of the frequency range," the report reads. "The impacts are greatest when the stage is positioned at the north end of the field facing toward the south (i.e., toward Music Hall) In this scenario, at very low frequencies (the octave bands at 63 Hz. and 125 Hz.), the intrusion would be between 11 and 15 dB higher than the background noise in Springer. This would be readily audible by the audience and the performers and would prove disruptive to both rehearsals and performances." 

The report’s author called the findings “sobering,” and the final report expected next week is expected to offer noise mitigation options. West End stadium will be in use on some Saturday nights, likely sometimes at the same time as Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concerts.

FC Cincinnati officials note that the team’s current home at University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium is a higher capacity, open venue that is closer to UC's College-Conservatory of Music, and that games there have not been disruptive.

“I will contrast the models of their consultant with three years of experience at Nippert Stadium,” FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding said in a statement. “Let me repeat, in three years of playing more than 50 matches at Nippert Stadium, in an open-design stadium with bigger crowds and closer proximity to arts venues, there have been NO complaints of noise. Our team has worked in good faith collaboration with these arts groups and their consultant and will continue to prove how our organizations can be great contributors to what makes Cincinnati a major league community.“

Cincinnati Arts Association vice president for marketing and communications Van Ackerman is nevertheless concerned.

"We all have an obligation to preserve the successful ongoing operation of Music Hall, and to protect it as a critical community asset, especially given the recent $143 million investment in its revitalization," Ackerman said.

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