The Washington Post

Decibel meters come to Verizon Center

Photo by Clyde Caplan Photo by Clyde Caplan

Fans who attended Thursday’s Capitals game at Verizon Center had new permanent fixtures to gaze upon in two of the upper corners of the arena. Longtime fans may have even felt nostalgic as they saw shades of the old Capital Centre in the Phone Booth for the first time since it opened nearly 16 years ago.

Yes, folks, make some noise, because the decibel meters are back, and they are flirting with 100 after every Caps goal and victory.

“We want the Capitals experience to be different than other hockey experiences,” said Michael Wurman, the Caps’ director of game entertainment and TV production. “We want to put as much as we can into the fans’ hands to influence the team and the environment.”

The decibel meters were popular fixtures at the old Capital Centre, and fans have been asking for years to bring them back. But it wasn’t as easy as simply buying one and plugging it in. Nearly two years of research and implementation went into the project. Fine tuning delayed the unveiling, which was originally scheduled for the season opener.

The Capitals also wanted to make sure that this was something the crowd actually wanted. Showing the hand-held decibel meter on the big screen, even with celebrity guests such as Wizard John Wall, wasn’t just a gimmick, but a social experiment to gauge the crowd’s reaction.

Other ‘make some noise’ endeavors included showing an animated noise meter on the Big Screen which had no connection to the crowd. And though the intention wasn’t to fool fans into believing it was influenced by their collective cheering, it wasn’t real and the fans knew it. “They’ve asked to get rid of the artificial noise meter,” Wurman said.

As of now, the meter is only used at Capitals games, but the Wizards have expressed interest and Wurman says there’s no reason it can’t be used at Mystics and Georgetown games as well.

“The end game is it looks good and we’re very pleased with how it came out. Like anything else we do, we hope the fans enjoy it.”

Ben Sumner works in the Post’s IT department and writes for Capitals Outsider.

Ben Sumner works in The Post’s IT department and writes for Capitals Outsider.



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