NFL raising the roof on noise meter at stadiums this season
By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY
The NFL is relaxing its strict rules on crowd noise for the new season as part of an initiative to improve the in-stadium experience for millions of fans, says chief marketing officer Mark Waller.
The league will allow home clubs to incite the 12th man with visual noise meters and scoreboard messages such as "Let's Hear It!" and "Raise the Roof!" while the visiting team's call plays. Clubs must cease when the play clock hits 15 seconds. As before, fans can't use noisemakers (no vuvuzelas). And teams are not allowed to pump in artificial crowd noise.
The NFL previously prohibited clubs from using these messages during the 40-second play clock out of concern they'd interfere with the visiting teams. But the league believes coach-to-quarterback radio communications and silent snap counts are advanced enough, says Waller.
"We as a league are working harder to balance what's right for fans — and what's right for playing football," Waller says.
Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league needs to make the stadium experience safer and more exciting to lure fans tempted to watch from the comfort of home. The NFL's 2009 attendance fell 2.4% to 16.7 million from 17.1 million in 2008.
To enable fans to better keep abreast of other games, all 31 stadiums are able to show the RedZone Channel on scoreboards before, during and after games.
Handheld devices such as Fan Vision will allow fans to watch all games from their seat. The Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, and Washington Redskins are installing HD boards similar to the Dallas Cowboys.