Improval of the atmosphere at Portman Road sign now

Dear Mr. Sheepshanks and the Ipswich Town board,

I`d just like to say that I`m very pleased with the job Joe Royle is doing, and to be 2nd (as I write) is an excellent achievement given the well documented financial constraints. Others may disagree, but this is not the point of this petition (and those against the board/manager should take this into consideration). This petition is ONLY about the benefit of Ipswich Town F.C. If that`s what you love (and what follows, you agree with) then please sign.

We have a problem that I think could be fixed, or at least improved a great deal, which would help Ipswich Town (fans, players, the extra league point or two, no end). It`s atmosphere. We all know the cliche about the 12th man - and it`s often true...and makes for a better day out (notwithstanding the result of course). This is something I believe could make a real difference (I think there will be very few fans who disagree) and I have spoken to someone who knows about such things...

I quote...

"I am a specialist acoustician and we have consulted on stadium design with other clubs and are well used to performance-space and studio design issues. The reasons for the lack of singing and atmosphere are based in the redevelopment of the stands (not the Suffolk character, the vagueries of the management or, to a large extent, the performance of the team).

The increased capacity in the stadium has resulted in the sense of "enclosure", that was prevalent in the old North Stand, being lost. Basically there is no reflective surface to return a fraction of the sound from the crowd singing back to the away fans. This is what is required to get the singing going. Large numbers of people will not get singing if they feel that they are not part of a crowd doing so and this feeling can only be generated if the singers can hear themselves/others with whom they feel confident joining.

Evidence to support this can be taken from the fact that if the crowd does get going properly then the noise does persist but once the mood deteriorates a little, singing dies a little and then falls away significantly to remain difficult to restart. How many matches has this happened in?

Further support can be drawn from the Sunderland Cup game. A section of vocal away support (helped by the design of the lower, more enclosing roof of the Cobbold Stand) were sat near the North Stand. This raised the general level of sound (and provoked the singing to start more easily anyway) and the consequent atmosphere was very much improved.

The solution would be to introduce surfaces to reflect the sound down into the lower North stand to maintain the self generated noise level there. This may be achievable by mounting stretched covers forward of the upper tier balcony (and high in the roof) but this would take some design as structural issues, sight lines and rain water drainage would need to be considered, but it could be done.

As an exercise, look at the design of the roofs of the stands on Tuesday night (Reading?). The older Brittania and Cobbold stands (and the South Stand to an extent) fold down towards their front edge and therefore tend to contain or reflect the sound that would be lost to the sky above the crowd whereas the North Stand is both very high and sloped to reflect it out over the pitch. This uses such sound that is created well for team motivation but does nothing whatever for helping to create the enclosed feeling beneficial to starting the singing in the first place.

As a final note, visit Huddersfield Town's ground for the ultimate in failure to design a stadium with the ability to create atmosphere. This has all the above short-comings taken to the extreme and is consequently completely soul-less (IMHO)."

This guy clearly knows what he`s talking about. Maybe you and the board should at least get in touch with him ("Those Were The Day`s" moderators should be able to help this, or maybe he`ll contact you direct if you`re interested) and see what can be done. I don`t see what you`ve got to lose except meet, see what can be done and discuss cost implications. Moving the away fans next to the North would immediately boost the atmosphere, but might be more of a logistical problem with people not wanting to move.

You`ve had some bad press, but I know you have your love of Ipswich in your heart despite what`s gone wrong in recent years. We, the undersigned, believe these measures wouldn`t cost the club much in terms of what it could GIVE to the club. If the passion delivers the 1 point that get`s us up, who could complain? It`s worth thinking about at least. The undersigned believe these points are something to be considered. Everyone who signs below appreciates the atmosphere has suffered in recent times, and anything to boost that can only be a boost for Ipswich Town.

I, and the people below, hope you will all give this some thought. I, as I`m sure many reading this, remember the days of the wire fence keeping fans apart in the North Stand. I was just a youngster...but despite our time (then) in the old Division One, I loved it. The passion was addictive, and whatever league we`re in (and I`m sure many agree and have their own memories of that time) I`d like to go some way back to that time (the atmosphere, rather than the attendances, sent tingles down the spine of a young lad as I was then).

Not just for me and my nostalgia....I genuinley think Ipswich Town will benefit from such an atmosphere boost.

That is all I have to say. If you agree, please sign. This petition will be forwarded to Mr. Sheepshanks, the board and the local press. I know many of you feel (or at least hope) the same. Make your voice heard.

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