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Saints Fans Desperate For Relief From 'Third Down Siren'


The Superdome has long been known as hostile territory for visiting teams. The crowd prides itself on the cacophonous din raised when their beloved Saints need their help — drowning out visitors' play calls and forcing false starts and bad matchups.

That is, until this year. Now, a great many fans are saying it is they who are being drowned out — by an egregiously bad Superdome sound effect.

It's the Dome Siren, a piped-in air raid alarm-style noise played at ear-splitting intensity each time an opposing team gets ready to play a third down.

It's a new game "innovation" this year, and is nearly universally reviled. Apparently designed to rally the "12th man" to create "fan impact plays," fans and the media are instead in an uproar over it. Many are saying the siren is so counterproductive, so disruptive and annoying, that it's actually helping opposing teams.

"It's created a Pavlov-like feeling of dread in me when I hear it," says Karl Schott, of Lafayette. "It's a signal announcing the other team is about to achieve a first down. Should be called the 1st down siren."

#StopTheDOMEsiren has trended on Twitter.

"Yes, it is gimmicky and annoying," says James Cullen, a New Orleans chef. "Plus, the Saints are awful on 3rd down."

Even people watching the games at home are annoyed by it.

"I haven't been to a game this year, and simply hearing about how much people hate that stupid siren saps my cheer," says Ryan Chauvin.

(Third-downs are, of course, the crucial play in a series of four, the outcome of which determines whether the team achieves a first down and maintains possession of the ball, or must punt it away or attempt a field goal.)

Complaints have so far fallen on deaf (or perhaps deafened?) ears at the Saints organization (audio engineers with SMG, the Superdome's management company, strenuously deny they have anything to do with the siren).

So, what are furious Saints fans to do? Some took to the White House's We The People site, to petition the government for a redress of their grievances — to "end the 3rd down siren by executive or judiciary privilege." Most are stuck venting their anger on social media, or plotting hilarious forms of protest.

"Third down siren is just like the printer in Office Space," says Ralph Malbrough. "We want it destroyed because we need an outlet for our pain."

Others are deciding to skip Saints games entirely.

"It's bad enough on TV when there's no crowd," says Alex McKenzie, who also advocates mounting the siren in the statue of Tom Benson recently erected outside the Superdome. "I want no part of it in person."

2014 opponents have (so far) converted 41 third downs in the Superdome. Over the last three games the conversion rate is nearly 62 percent.

This story has been updated to reflect the following clarification: Since the initial publication of this story, the White House petition has been removed for violation of the petition site's Terms of Participation.

Jason Saul served as WWNO's Director of Digital Services. In 2017 he took a position at BirdNote, in Seattle.

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