Utah to investigate resident noise complaints

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's record-setting football season may be setting some records for noise outside the stadium.

Complaints from neighbors of Rice-Eccles Stadium have prompted the school to monitor the problem Saturday when the undefeated Utes host rival Brigham Young. Stadium managers will measure decibels levels from homes and areas north of the stadium.

Saturday will be the last home game for fifth-ranked Utah and will likely be the loudest because of the opponent and what's at stake. But the fans aren't the biggest problem. Complaints intensified after the school installed a new video scoreboard system last year, according to Mark Burk, who oversees Rice-Eccles Stadium and the Huntsman Center.

A cluster of scoreboard speakers that faces north and points toward the farthest seat at the top of the bowl seems to be the biggest issue.

"We want to be good neighbors," said Norman Chambers, vice president for administrative services. "It's our understanding the noise meets all appropriate regulations."

Neighbors have complained that the noise puts a damper on nighttime television watching -- especially since the team has played more late game this year to accommodate national television.

Some say the speakers appear to be turned up as the games progress.

Not all the residents agree, especially given the team's success this season.

"It's only for a few hours ... anybody can get used to that," said Lisa O'Brien, who also lives north of the stadium. "People ought to be proud of the football program. It's bringing some very positive attention to Utah."

Diane Keay, a supervisor in Salt Lake City's environmental health division, said one guideline for mass gatherings is that the noise not be audible after 10 p.m. Games that don't start until 8 p.m. continue well after 10.

Specifically, she added, stadium noise shouldn't be heard outside the property line.

"One of the interesting things about noise is that there's very little correlation between (decibel) readings and public acceptance," Keay said.

The school hopes to confirm Saturday whether the volumes fall within the range of acceptable decibel levels.

"We want to see if there's specific spots where something is being reflected or amplified," Burk said. "We want to have events and still keep everybody happy."