FAYETTEVILLE -- Today, the Arkansas Razorbacks open Pandora's box.
What blasts from the box could help their efforts to win football games or alienate a portion of their fans.
Probably both. Alienation is most likely if the volume of victories doesn't increase with the increased volume.
The noise at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville's Reynolds Razorback Stadium will reach levels at today's Arkansas vs. TCU football game never achieved there before, both Razorbacks Athletic Director Jeff Long and football Coach Bret Bielema predict.
If true, that speaks volumes.
Even at its then 43,000 capacity, fans' cheers at the 1969 Arkansas vs. Texas Shootout at Razorback Stadium vibrated so much volume that without the aid of wind, the ball fell off the opening kickoff tee before it could be kicked.
With Reynolds Razorback Stadium now at a capacity of 72,000, fans in Fayetteville have cranked the volume to levels that impressed even an Alabama Crimson Tide national championship quarterback.
"We already had Greg McElroy [after Alabama's 24-20 victory in 2010] who said his game here was the loudest stadium he's ever heard," Long told Wednesday's Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club.
The difference today, Bielema and Long say, is the work already done toward making a bowl of the north end zone, which will be completed with luxury seating in 2018.
"People are going to be amazed," Bielema said. "Even though it's not finished, it's enclosed. When we're in there [for preseason scrimmages] with just music and a smaller crowd, it's definitely resonating a lot louder than I've ever heard it."
"You can tell the volume is amped up," he said.
Amped up is the potentially detrimental opening of the Pandora's box: It could make for an even louder pregame of already too amplified canned noise that makes taking a seat a drudgery until kickoff.
So the "improved" sound system Long cited over the past two years seems likely to improve again, and that's not necessarily good.
"That north end zone piece is causing us to recalibrate throughout the stadium because it is different," Long said.
Given past fan criticism, many will hope the recalibrating is decidedly down and not up.
"Improving social amenities" is a goal Long states for the Razorbacks' various venues.
Well, there's nothing social about being unable to talk during pregame because of incessantly blaring artificial noise.
And there's nothing more unifying than fans generating their own noise.
Think back to June during the Razorbacks' baseball regional semifinal victory over Missouri State that lasted until 3 a.m. at Baum Stadium. Because it was an NCAA championship event, partisan canned noise was forbidden.
"One, two, three in the morning and I felt like there were 10,000 people in the stands," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "Unbelievable. It made you proud to be associated with Arkansas and to be their coach. I'll never forget it."
Razorbacks fans can hope their athletic department still remembers.
Sports on 09/09/2017
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