SBD/June 7, 2011/Facilities

Get Loud: Mavericks Pump Up The Volume At American Airlines Center

American Airlines Center features 60 speakers hanging above the court
At sporting events “across the nation, and in the NBA in particular, noise has become a part of the show,” according to a front-page piece by Alan Schwarz of the N.Y. TIMES. Owners like the Mavericks’ Mark Cuban “have turned hosting a game into producing an event -- with ‘assisted resonance’ and ‘crowd enhancement.’” Sixty “mammoth speakers hanging above the court” at American Airlines Center in Dallas “thunder music and clamorous sound effects louder than a jumbo jet engine.” Schwarz writes it is “hard to tell if the Mavericks’ favorite machine during these playoffs is Dirk Nowitzki, their star player, or their sound system.” After tip-off of a recent Western Conference Finals game against the Thunder, microphones in the backboard “amplified rim clangs, sneaker squeaks and the occasional player profanity, while devices dangling above the crowd … could redirect courtside crowd sounds into the distant upper mezzanine.” The Mavericks “have received a few complaints about the cacophony, which lasts through most two-hour games at decibel levels between a power mower’s 90 and a rock concert’s 110,” but “few seem to be boycotting games.” The proliferation of luxury suites has “put greater emphasis on the size and clarity of sports sound systems.” American Airlines Center acoustic engineer Jack Wrightson said, “All of the owners are interested in crowd noise. But the size of the buildings today makes that a real problem you have to solve” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/7). In Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote, “Feedback from recent column about having less noise at major league games: almost 100 percent in favor” (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/5).
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