Commentary

These go to 11

Many schools claim to own the loudest arena. All but one is wrong.

Originally Published: November 4, 2010
By Ian Gordon | ESPN The Magazine
Phog Allen FieldhouseDustin SnipesThe loudest college hoops arena? You're looking at it.

Rule No. 1 of homecourt advantage: You need a raucous student section to make a gym shake. But campus faithful are only one factor in the volume equation; clever chants and the unifying powers of a catchy nickname -- Orange Krush, Oakland Zoo, Rowdy Reptiles -- get you just so far. They can be undone by awkward seating plans, unwelcoming building designs or unforgiving construction materials. In other words, some home courts are more advantageous than others.

So which is the loudest of them all? Clearly, someone had to settle things. And clearly, that someone was us. We polled a variety of resident ESPN hoopsheads to create an anecdotal list of the 10 most boisterous arenas. Then we turned to more objective pros, members of Penn State's acoustics program. To calculate the maximum decibel level (direct sound plus reverb) at each center court, PSU's team perused construction data provided by the schools and contractors, then assumed the following to create their models: 1) a capacity crowd of yelling spectators; 2) student fans yelling twice as loudly as others; 3) fan bodies absorbing sound equally at all venues.

The result is the season's first upset: Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse over Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium. But our acousticians want to make one point perfectly clear: These rankings aren't final.

Like any preseason Top 10, they are based only on potential. So if you don't like where your school stands, there's one way to protest: Make some noise.