The Impact of a "Silent" Superdome

The New Orleans Saints will open the season with a riveting head-to-head battle against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome without their fans - The Who Dat Nation.
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Today Saints fans could not be happier. The New Orleans Saints will open the season with a riveting head-to-head battle with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  But this game will be without the fans. It's difficult to imagine the Superdome will not have the ‘Who Dat’ chants, no black and gold face paintings, no Saints whistles, no ‘bless you boys’, no waves and no second lines, but a quiet Superdome at kickoff?   Why?  The State of Louisiana has not officially moved into Phase 3 of reopening.  Also, the City of New Orleans is not ready to move out of Phase 2 based on the current COVID-19 reported cases.  But, how will this impact the Saints?

The deafening noise of the fans in the Superdome has an undeniable effect. We have all witnessed quarterbacks look flustered as they frantically call for the snap as the play clock expires. The Superdome has a reputation for being one of the loudest arenas in the league, but the league will limit the first game and limit the artificial fan noise to 70 decibels max.     

The Impace of a _Silent_ Superdome

Statement from the Superdome

“This is a reminder that no fans are allowed on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome campus for Sunday’s Saints game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Champions Square and areas around the Smoothie King Center will be barricaded to all fans. The parking garages and ramps leading up the Plaza area will also be closed off and no tailgating will be permitted on the Superdome property. We understand the excitement and fervor to be near the game but given the current guidelines we must ask that everyone adhere to these restrictions.”  Mike Hoss-Communications Coordinator, ASM Global/LSED

What is the impact of a ‘Silent’ Superdome?

The NFL may rank at the top of the major professional sports leagues who depend on the fans to provide an advantage in home stadiums. Dome teams have a significant advantage over outdoor arena teams. Arrowhead Stadium set the crowd noise at 142.2 decibels. But NFL teams realize the home-field advantage the Mercedes-Benz Superdome gives to the Saints. 

  • First, the Who Dat Nation and crowd noise bring exuberant energy. Opposing teams complain about the noise from the Superdome’s fans, and the Saints players feed off the home crowd’s energy and passion.
  • Second, the crowd noise makes it very difficult to hear for the visiting teams. The Dome becomes so loud opposing teams find it extremely challenging to hear plays or audibles. The ear-piercing noise makes changing plays at the line of scrimmage almost impossible.
  • Third, noise interference causes snap count errors, and false starts. Saints LT Terron Armstead described the experience as wild, energetic, and beautiful. “From my point of view, I love it. I love to look back at the crowd from behind the benches and see people screaming and going crazy, jumping. I love it, man.”
Saints head coach Sean Payton

Saints HC Sean Payton looks at playing in the Superdome without fans as something he cannot control.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara says it just will not be the same,

It is definitely different, but at the end of the day, when we get in there, we have got a job to do. That is how I approached the practice the other day when we walked into the dome. You’re thinking about it like man, no fans, and then we get in there and you break the huddle and it’s time to lock-in. So it is what it is, but I will say the crowd noise that the league approved is nothing compared to what the dome sounds like. I feel like they kind of played us on that.

Saints, LB DeMario Davis, is not concerned about fan noise but is more focused on playing against 14 time Pro Bowler and six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady,

One thing about Tom is his preparation is just second to none, the attention to detail, the knowing different formations, knowing different tendencies, knowing how to get his offense in the right play at the right time, knowing how to stay poised. It’s no accident he’s one of the best to ever do it. And you can tell that goes from his preparation, how he takes care of himself. How he stays poised under pressure. Just being able to see the game and having so much experience in the game, you’re not going to really surprise him with too much stuff.

The NBA has given fans exciting games, so it will be interesting to see how the NFL will bring the fans into the football games without crowd noise. On Sunday, January 19, 2019, Sports Illustrated reported the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was so loud at the NFC Championship between the Rams and Saints that the press box was shaking. The arena has a lengthy history with providing the Saints' crowd noise in home games. Coach Payton believes the determining factor for the Superdome games will not be the fans, but the execution of the team’s game plan.

The New Orleans Saints were expecting fans to return in Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers.  This week, New Orleans Mayor Cantrell said in a press conference that the City of New Orleans will not approve fan attendance inside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  Sean Payton was informed of the Mayor's decision in his Friday media call and was visibly disturbed about the news.

The Saints-Bucs season opener kicks off in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome today at 3:25 PM CST with Fox Sports broadcasting the contest.