In this edition of Stadium Q&A: Ross-Ade Stadium, College Football America Yearbook editor-in-chief Matthew Postins talks about his experience at the home of Purdue football.
What made you decide to go to Ross-Ade Stadium?
Well, I’m still trying to knock out all the Big Ten stadiums, and this particular season went a long way. Purdue was easy to work in because the Boilermakers were opening the season on a Thursday that allowed me to not only knock out Ross-Ade Stadium but knock out another nearby Big Ten stadium I had not been to yet. I had only seen Purdue on the road so I hadn’t had that on-campus experience.
What was the gameday atmosphere like around Ross-Ade?
I loved it. Granted the opening home game of the season is always a little amped up. But one thing that I really appreciated about this experience was how close the great parts of campus were to the stadium, including the Purdue Mall, the campus quad. It used to be called the Purdue Spine. I like Mall much better. I checked that out before the game and really enjoyed the atmosphere. The great thing about the Mall is that it’s easy to look around and then it’s a short walk up the hill to the stadium. If you go this way I suggest you head to your right and walk over to the visitors’ side and check out the large metal statue of the Boilermaker. It’s a tremendous work of art.
From there keep walking to the area I would consider to be the main gate of the stadium. This is where you’ll end up watching the Boilermakers walk to the stadium a little more than two hours before the game. On this day I saw the Boilermaker drum line, cheerleaders, players and the Boilermaker Special. The Special is a Victorian-era locomotive on a truck that leads the team on the Boilermaker Walk. After that it’s time to head into the stadium. But check out the tailgating near that entrance as well. There was some great food to be had. Plus — and I missed this one — but head to Slayter Hill 90 minutes before game time to check out the Purdue Band (more on them in a bit).
What did you like about Ross-Ade?
The stadium is a pretty simple design. It’s a horseshoe design, much like the more famous design at Ohio State, with a single level. No second deck, but a large bank of suites and press areas on the home side of the stadium. That can be a good thing on game day because the sun sets to the west, right behind that press box. So on this late August day that was a godsend. They’ve created quite the little party area at the end of that Horseshoe that is open air and allows those that want to spend the money access to some great amenities. The visitors’ side can lead to some great photo opportunities when that sun sets on a partly-cloudy day. I found the stadium to be tremendously walkable. Some FBS stadiums can be a pain to walk around in, especially if you’re two or three decks up. But the horseshoe design and wide concourses help fans at Ross-Ade have a fun experience.
What was it like inside the stadium on gameday?
It was a lot of fun and much of that had to do with the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band. The band has been marching and performing since 1886 and they’re well-known for that massive bass drum. Other schools have them. Texas and North Carolina State come to mind. They call Purdue’s the “World’s Largest Drum,” and this 10-foot tall drum still features some of its original parts. Getting to see it up close I can see why it needs so many people to move it around. But those band members wheel that drum out there with the energy of football players. This is a precision band that gets the crowd hyped up during pre-game. Plus their drill team and the Golden Girl feature twirler are as talented as I’ve seen. I didn’t get to see the Block P before the game — after all, I was on the field by then — but it’s considered one of the first marching band formations around. It’s one of those things that I hate to miss, but I wouldn’t trade being up close for this band’s performance.
What there a tradition or pre-game ritual that really stuck out?
The Purdue Band played “America the Beautiful” and when they did, I could hear a spoken-word poem that I didn’t understand at the time. It’s actually a poem called “I Am an American,” written by Al G. Wright, the director of the Purdue Band in the 1960s. Since its first performance in the 1960s, the Purdue Band plays it before every home game and Purdue fans stand and recite the poem along with the PA announcer. It’s quite stirring and worth being in your seat to hear before the game.
What would you tell those that haven’t been to a game at Ross-Ade Stadium?
While it’s not as large as Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State, Ross-Ade is proof you don’t have to have 85,000 seats to have a big-game experience. From the Boilermaker Special to the Purdue Band to “I Am an American,” Purdue has carved out something unique and all its own in the Big Ten and in college football. It’s a high recommend from me. If you get the chance, head to West Lafayette, Ind., and catch a Big Ten game at Ross-Ade.
The RoadTripSports.com and College Football America Yearbook staff has been to college football games all over the country, which means we’ve seen some of the best stadiums around. Every experience is different, and our staff looks for the best of those experience in our Stadium Q&A.
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