Sound decision

You can have a blast at the Clarenville Events Centre, just not with an air horn

Kenn Oliver
Published on February 19, 2013
As a result of more than 20 separate complaints made in recent weeks, the Clarenville Events Centre is banning the use of compressed air horns, such as the one shown above, at the venue, including during home games of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League’s Clarenville Caribous. — Thinkstock photo

It will be a little bit quieter inside the Clarenville Events Centre from now on. On Monday, as a result of more than 20 separate complaints in recent weeks, the arena announced it would ban the use of compressed air horns at the venue, including during the hugely popular Clarenville Caribous games.

“I, more than anybody, want a loud and crazy environment for the games,” says CEC manager Todd Cole.

“But when someone comes to me complaining and shows me a can that clearly says ‘not for indoor use,’ because of the decibel level, they’re in the right and it puts us in an awkward situation.”

An air horn pushes compressed air through a reed or diaphragm, causing it to vibrate and emit sound waves that are then amplified by the horn portion of the device. Most standard portable compressed air horns, like the ones available for purchase at major retailers, emit bursts that can measure between 110 and 125 decibels. The human ear’s pain threshold is 125 decibels.

That said, the label of one popular brand available at Canadian Tire reads “ideal for all sporting events.” Another rechargeable type of horn, one that blasts at 115 decibels, “Can be used where metal containers have been banned (i.e. stadiums, arenas).”

This isn’t the first time the CEC has had to address the use of the portable noise-making devices at Clarenville Caribous games. Last year, after receiving similar complaints, the CEC put up signs asking fans with air horns to limit use to relevant celebrations — players taking the ice, goals, end of the game, etc. — and to point them high in the air away and away from other fans.

“As time went on, again, they were shooting from their hip in people’s ear, not intentionally of course, but just getting carried away.”

That’s not to say there haven’t been some intentional bursts.

“We’ve had a visiting fan literally turn around and shoot it into one of our volunteers’ face when they were told not to use it,” Cole recounts.

And earlier this season, the use of a horn resulted in a confrontation between fans in the stands.

“So if we can remove that one risk element, why not,” asks Cole.

The AHL has a strict policy banning their use, and Mile One Centre in St. John’s has followed suit. A number of arenas used by NHL teams also don’t allow them, although the league itself has no official policy on air horn use.

In a press release on the Caribous’ website and Facebook page, it reads that “Any air horns will be confiscated by staff and held at main office for pick-up at the end of the game. Failure to adhere to this policy will result in removal from the game.”

It also reads that, “The powered sirens we have installed at the CEC are controlled by the CEC. The operators have clear instructions as to when and how to use them. If they are not operated as per guidelines, then they too will be removed from that post.”

The decision to ban the noise-making devices was met by some grumblings on the blog Some believe the venue is catering to the desires of a small group, while others suggest the CEC will be more like a church than a hockey venue.

“We’re not trying to do that, but we want to take pride in our facility and we want it as loud as we can, but when someone is in the wrong we’ve simply got to respond to it.

“It’s there to protect the people sitting in front of them, hopefully it doesn’t take away from the game whatsoever. There’s plenty of other ways they can make a heck of a lot of noise, and a lot of people do.”

The next Caribous games at the CEC are Friday, Saturday and Sunday as they play host to the Western Royals for the next three games of their Newfoundland Senior Hockey League best-of-seven semifinal series.