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Major League Soccer’s Unique Crowd Noise Situation

Adding crowd noise to broadcasts has been a much discussed topic. How would MLS fans receive it?

MLS: Chicago Fire at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

A common topic of recent conversation is the use of manufactured crowd noise at professional soccer games. As anyone watching the Bundesliga has noticed, broadcasts feature the sounds and songs of fans despite the empty stadiums. That leads to the question of what will happen when MLS returns?

Major League Soccer is discussing a return with a tournament at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. The league feels it would be able to keep the players quarantined enough to provide safety while playing a certain number of games. Obviously, fans will not attend these games, which brings into question the sounds people will hear on the broadcasts.

The response to the added crowd noise in Bundesliga games is mixed. Some people feel the familiar sounds add to the broadcast, while others feel it’s forced and would rather enjoy hearing the players and coaches communicate. FOX has thus far decided to use the crowd broadcast but MLS could have its own unique situation.

The Bundesliga games are held in the home stadiums so while there are no fans, it’s the right setting for the amount of noise heard. If MLS returns with its Orlando plan, it won’t be the same way. The sports complex at Disney World has a main soccer stadium with about 5,000 seats and a bunch of fields with minimal seating.

In addition to fans already knowing these games are held at a much smaller facility than an MLS stadium, the lack of seating will likely be seen on the broadcast. Hearing 20,000 fans singing and chanting could seem quite odd when the broadcast shows few or no seats in the background.

If the league decides to include crowd noise, it would likely use noise previously created in MLS stadiums. To decrease the noise to match the actual facility, it could decide to tone down the noise or only add the supporters groups or ambient noise. Another option could be to use crowd noise from that facility in addition to supporters groups songs and chants. After all, the facility was Orlando City’s home for the 2014 USL Pro season and previously hosted an MLS preseason tournament.

Of course, the size of the facility probably won’t matter to those who approve of the fake sounds. After all, the empty seats in the Bundesliga are easily visible on broadcasts and some people still prefer cheering to the realistic sounds of a nearly empty stadium. If you prefer your broadcast with the sounds of fans, it might not matter what the size of the facility is.

In the end, the most important thing is to get players back on the field. It’s been a long time since the MLS’ second week of the season. However games are held will surely be appreciated by those that miss the games dearly.

But since we’re still stuck without MLS for the time being, what do you prefer if MLS continues with its Orlando plan? Would you prefer crowd noise or only that of the facility? If you desire crowd noise, would you prefer the noise to match the facility? Let us know in the comments below.