clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Dear Cubs: The Wrigley Field P.A. system is WAY TOO LOUD! Please fix it.

New, 27 comments

The ballpark audio is deafening, almost literally.

Getty Images

I can’t say this any other way: I’ve had it with the Wrigley Field public address system.

It’s too loud. Like, WAY too loud. I am losing my voice from having to shout at my friends sitting right next to me in order for them to hear ordinary conversation.

This has been the case off and on for at least a year, and it’s been worse for each of the four home games I’ve attended. Each day, I’ve gone to Fan Services to ask them, nicely, to call upstairs and have the volume turned down. They’ve made the calls, but to no avail. I was told by more than one gameday employee that those with radios can’t hear the calls they get, the sound is so loud.

Today, I went to Fan Services twice. After the second time, I noticed the P.A. system go silent for a while (that was blissful!), then someone came on a microphone to do a sound check.

Then the music came back — louder than before.

That’s when I decided to try a sound meter app I have on my phone. Now, there are caveats here: I’m not a professional and this is just from a phone app. Nevertheless, I present my results. This was the ambient sound level in the bleachers with the P.A. off. It’s timestamped so you can see exactly when I did each of these measurements.

Now, this one, less than a minute later, was taken when an announcement was being made:

86 decibels is really loud, especially when the speaker is only about 20 feet from your ear.

Then I went over to the other side of the ballpark. These measurements were taken from the first or second row of the terrace, near section 206. This is the ambient sound level with no P.A. announcement, a bit louder than the bleachers, which you’d expect given the larger number of people and the upper deck overhead:

Now, a minute or so later, with an announcement being made:

Louder than the bleacher speaker, but keep in mind the speaker I was measuring from was well overhead, hanging from the upper deck. I’d estimate that at about 50 feet from my ear. Thus had that speaker been the same 20 feet from my ear that the bleacher speaker was, the decibel number would likely have been larger.

When I returned to the bleachers, a friend in our group told me someone from the Cubs had come out and done exactly what I was doing — measuring sound via an app from his phone. That app recorded the sound level in the bleachers at 93 dB, even higher than my measurement. So there’s a pretty good chance that my app is actually measuring the sound levels lower than they really are.

Here are three more measurements I took. This one was in the first inning, not long after the game started, ambient sound from the crowd, which was probably at its biggest just then:

A few minutes later, during a quiet interlude:

And an hour or so later, more ambient crowd sound from the bleachers:

At least during the game, loud P.A. announcements aren’t constant. Batters are introduced, walkup music plays, commercials/music run between innings, there are quite a few periods of simple ambient crowd sound. Obviously if there’s something to cheer about, the crowd sound will be much louder than any of these, and again, that’s only for a brief time. You’ll surely remember this Wrigley event:

I can’t remember Wrigley ever being louder than that. I’ll bet if I had brought out the sound meter then, it would have registered well over 100 decibels — but again, only for a short time.

When the Cubs have Gary Pressy playing pregame music from the time the gates open until perhaps 45 minutes to game time when ads and other pregame announcements begin, that music is on constantly, for well over an hour. As I’ve noted, it is impossible to carry on normal conversation with someone sitting, say, two or three feet from you. You have to shout over the music. This isn’t good.

I like ballpark music. Gary Pressy’s a fine organist and makes good selections. I like ballplayer walkup music; it allows players to get creative and for some, they say it helps get them going. This is all fine and good. I get that the Cubs get money from the ads they run pregame and between innings, I don’t have any problem with that.

What I do have a problem with is it being played at earsplittingly loud volume levels. I have been to games in the following cities over the last three seasons: Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Tampa as well as the south side of Chicago, and other ballparks in the few years prior. Not one of them blasts P.A. volume as loud as they’ve been doing it at Wrigley Field.

So, I ask publicly, and politely: Dear Cubs, please turn the volume down at Wrigley Field, before you deafen your fans permanently.