Repurposing sports stadiums for live concerts puts the neighbourhood at risk of exposure to harmful and disruptive levels of noise

For the attention of: City planners, general public and community health committees.

The problem: In recent years, open air live concerts are often included as a major part of the summer time entertainment in the urban parks and squares, greatly increasing the sound levels and exposing the residents to potentially harmful noise.

What we did and why: We used noise monitors to record week-long continuous measurements on residential rooftops across Fenway, a location for live concerts in Boston, from March to September 2019. We measured a spectrum of sound metrics to get a full idea of the exposure. We compared the levels during baseball games, live concerts, and no activity to see how live concerts threaten the peace of the neighborhood.

What our study adds: Noise is an under-researched environmental pollutant that disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations. This is the first study that measures the impact of reusing existing structures for open air concerts.  Our study considers multiple sound metrics that can impact health and travel through urban areas in unique ways.

Implications for city policy and practice: It is crucial that city planners weigh the potential impacts to the local soundscape of reusing any existing structure against the benefit to the community. We developed and implemented a methodology for collecting and analysing sound data to answer these questions. We present a plan for how city officials and urban planners can confront these questions in their communities, not just with live concerts but with other environmental sound issues too.

Link to resources: Community Noise Lab is located at the Brown University School of Public Health. The lab’s primary aim is to holistically explore the relationship between community noise and health by working directly with communities to support their specific noise issues using real-time monitoring and exposure modeling. Our smartphone app, NoiseScore, allows users to objectively measure and subjectively describe noise events in their community; community noise surveying via our National Neighborhood Environmental Noise Survey. We also have laboratory-based experiments and community engagement activities.

Full research article: Adaptive reuse and its impacts on the environmental soundscape: the case of Fenway, Boston, MA

Authors: Erica D. Walker (@e_dubya), Nina F. Lee (@ninafranzlee), Koen F. Tieskens, Jennifer M. Cavallari, Claire Schollaert & Jonathan I. Levy (@jonlevyBU)

Editor: Marcus Grant (@MarcusxGrant)