The Buffalo Bills have a tough job Sunday when they take on the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
But Bills fans have their work cut out for them, too.
Guinness World Records will be at the game to determine whether Buffalo can set the record for the loudest outdoor stadium.
So to make sure fans at the game are in shouting shape, The News sought advice from a few experts – those who know a thing or two about noise and how to belt it out:
An Army drill sergeant.
A high school basketball coach.
An acoustic architect.
An opera singer.
“In order to project more loudly you have to use your entire body,” said Valerian Ruminski, founder and artistic director of the Nickel City Opera.
As a bass, Ruminski projects his voice without a microphone before an audience of thousands. The power, he said, comes from deep within, down to the diaphragm – the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen.
“If you’re only yelling from your neck, it’s weak,” Ruminski said.
“It’s got to come from as far down below as possible,” he said. “If the sound feels like it’s coming from where the vomit comes from – then you know you’re getting more of a diaphragmatic sound.”
Once Bills fans get the hang of that, they’re ready for the next step.
“Try to be louder than the guy standing right next to you,” said Sgt. First Class Marc Schott. “If you can hear them over your own voice, you need to be louder.”
The soft-spoken Schott was an Army drill sergeant for three years at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, where he learned to raise his voice loud enough for the soldiers at the end of the formation to hear him.
He transferred to the Buffalo area, where he’s now a recruiter for the Army National Guard and still puts on the drill cap when called upon.
“You can’t worry about what you sound like; you can’t be insecure with your voice,” Schott said.
“Get it out there.”
But fans won’t be breaking any records Sunday without the quintessential ingredient needed to be really loud:
“You can’t yell to the best of your ability, if you’re not a passionate person,” said Mark Kensy, the longtime basketball coach for the boys varsity team at Maryvale.
“Yelling just to yell?” Kensy said. “It’s not sustained.”
Buffalo’s attempt to claim the record for the loudest outdoor stadium came together this week, after coach Rex Ryan and his players raved about how loud the fans were in the team’s victorious home-opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
Bills fan Brandon “Grippy” Campbell, a 28-year-old car salesman from the Town of Tonawanda, set out to raise the $8,000 Guinness required to send an adjudicator to Sunday’s game. By Thursday’s deadline, Campbell’s online fundraising campaign had secured $9,195.
Campbell also received the all-important blessing from the Buffalo Bills organization.
Now, the logistics are up to Campbell, said Kristen Ott, a spokeswoman for Guinness World Records.
He’s responsible for making sure that on site there’s a sound engineer with the necessary equipment to measure crowd noise. It’s also up to Campbell and the Bills to orchestrate how and where it’s best to capture the crowd noise during the game, Ott said.
In fact, for this record – titled “loudest crowd roar” at an outdoor sports stadium – Guinness rules allow fans to use noisemakers, like plastic horns and thundersticks, as long as the sound isn’t produced electronically, Ott said.
But you may want to leave your whistles and drums at home. The Bills don’t permit noisemakers in the stadium, so it looks like fans will have to break the record the old-fashioned way – by screaming.
“Just stand up straight and yell straight at the field,” Campbell said.
The world record of 142.2 decibels – which is louder than a jet plane flying 100 feet overhead – was set last Sept. 29 at Arrowhead Stadium during a Monday night game when the Kansas City Chiefs defeated – who else? – the Patriots.
For 70,000 fans to reach 143 decibels, each one will have to generate about 95 decibels, said Paul Battaglia, an adjunct associate professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo.
“That’s about as loud as a motorcycle,” Battaglia said. “That’s pretty loud.”
Sound intensity diminishes with distance in an open-air stadium, so the fans closest to the field will have to really belt it out if Buffalo wants to break the record, Battaglia said.
There’s also an inherent problem with Ralph Wilson Stadium, Battaglia said.
Arrowhead is naturally “louder” because the fans are closer to the field, he said. The upper deck at Arrowhead is also higher and more enclosed, which keeps the noise in the stadium and adds to the loudness.
So even if the fans do their part, Buffalo may have a hard time breaking the record Sunday.
“Like the game,” Battaglia said, “this might be close.”