Ross-Ade Stadium – Purdue Boilermakers
Ross-Ade Stadium has been bringing crowds to central Indiana to cheer on the Purdue Boilermakers since 1924. Located in West Lafayette, just across the Wabash River from its sister city of Lafayette, Ross-Ade Stadium provides quality Big Ten football in a classic college town. The stadium was originally built into the earth as a three-sided bowl, but expansions over the years have kept this venue very modern. The most recent renovation was completed in 2003 and resulted in a capacity of 62,500. This renovation gave the Ross-Ade Stadium a very imposing 4-level club and press box, which is now the focal point of many fan photos taken at a Purdue game. There has been talk over the last decade of adding upper decks to the east and north sides of the stadium, but these plans are still in the discussion stage.
Purdue has hit a rough patch as the Big Ten has added members and gotten stronger over the years. Their biggest rivals are Indiana and Illinois. Both games, like many in the Big Ten, are trophy games where the winner keeps a trophy until they play again.
Food & Beverage 3
Ross-Ade Stadium provides mostly classic game day favorites. Fans can enjoy a cheeseburger or chicken tenders for $6 or a hot dog or bratwurst for $5. The $4 snack selections include a box of popcorn, waffle fries, a soft pretzel, or nachos with cheese. For deluxe classics, there is a $7 pork tenderloin sandwich or an $8 Big Boiler Burger. The nachos with cheese is a great value item for a good price with enough cheese to cover all the chips. Coke products are $4 for a cup, but many fans choose to go with the $8 souvenir bottomless cup, which provides free refills. Many fans bring these cups into the stadium with them. If you’re going to more than one game and willing to try this, this makes this a true bargain. Later in the football season, the $3 hot chocolate is sure to see a spike in sales as central Indiana is known for its relatively harsh winters. Alcohol is not served or permitted inside the stadium.
Ross-Ade Stadium does provide a few unique items, such as personal cheese or pepperoni pizzas from Marco’s Pizza, ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery, and Dippin’ Dots. For those in need, there is even a gluten free stand behind Section 111.
Overall, the food and drink selection here leaves a lot to be desired. It’s good enough to get you through a Saturday but nothing that leaves you coming back for more. Lines go quick at least, and you can get your food/drink without much hassle.
The atmosphere surrounding a Purdue football game begins long before the opening kickoff. In a uniquely Purdue fashion, many students hit the bars at 7 am on game days in a campus tradition known as “Breakfast Club.” However, there is one additional detail: they dress up in costumes. This explains why you may see groups of students in crazy outfits, sometimes stumbling, on the walk to Ross-Ade Stadium. A new tradition is the “211 Session,” a pep rally involving the Purdue All-American Marching Band that goes down in Mackey Arena, the home of Boilermaker basketball which is located on the southeast corner of Ross-Ade Stadium. The head coach and football team also pass through this event on their way to their locker room in hope of gaining energy and motivation from the crowd.
As Ross-Ade Stadium does not have permanent lights, night games are few and far between, and only when a television station provides them for a big game. This is a classic tradition and it’s refreshing to see a school in a power five conference still play the majority of their home games during the day.
The Purdue All-American Marching Band keeps fans entertained after almost every play and it is fun to watch with their version of the World’s Largest Bass Drum. The on-field mascot, “Purdue Pete,” keeps up the Boilermaker theme as he parades around the stadium carrying his railroad hammer, urging fans to cheer “Boiler Up” and “Hammer Down.” You may also be lucky enough to see the “Boilermaker Special,” a replica train locomotive, of which there is a miniature version and an official mascot version, driving around West Lafayette on game day. Before the game, the marching band and cheer squad are out getting fans revved up for the game. Fans can take a picture with the “World’s Largest Drum.”
Unfortunately, the stadium speaker system is sub-par, resulting in the public address announcer being discernible only on the south side of the stadium, as the speakers are near the video board above the south end zone bleachers. Since the seating is all a single-level sloping bowl, no single seat is very far from the game action, even though there are more than 70 rows from the field level to the top of the stadium.
One downer are the end zone seats. If you aren’t 4’6′ or smaller, then your legs will be halfway into the row in front of you. The vantage point from the end zone is amazing, but not worth the contortion involved to not touch your neighbor on any side.
The video boards here are small and it’s hard to see the details of what is going on during a replay.
While the area immediately around Ross-Ade Stadium is lacking in food choices, the area known as Chauncey Hill is just over a mile to the southeast of the stadium and is a quintessential college town commercial district. The restaurants in this area can either be visited during your drive to or from the stadium, but since the large campus lies between the bars and stadium, this is a great chance to take a self-guided tour of the Purdue campus. As you enter campus from the north end by the stadium, you will pass the statue of Neil Armstrong, arguably the most famous Purdue alum. Continuing south, you can enjoy the uniform red brick buildings, distinctive bell tower, and fountains that grace the central part of campus.
Chauncey Hill is the area from which Breakfast Club participants will be walking, so when you see the costumes, you know you are in the right place. The local favorites for bars are Harry’s Chocolate Shop, Brother’s Bar & Grill, and Jake’s Roadhouse. These are all located in or near Chauncey Village, found at the top of the hill. Despite the name, Harry’s Chocolate Shop does not serve any desserts, but is one of the best college bars in the country.
For a non-alcoholic drink, stop in the nearby Discount Den for a Den Pop, a Purdue staple of a 32 ounce fountain drink for only 60 cents. For a more relaxed experience, check out Nine Irish Brothers, a traditional Irish pub down the hill near the levee. There is also a Buffalo Wild Wings for those fans looking to catch other football action before or after a Purdue game.
If you are looking for a quicker bite to eat, there is Chipotle, Qdoba, Noodles & Company, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, and School House of Chili. For a sweet treat after the game, check out Insomnia Cookies, which is located on Stadium Avenue and serves fresh-baked cookies in-house until midnight every night.
The in-game atmosphere for marquee games at Ross-Ade Stadium is definitely a rewarding experience. The Ross-Ade Brigade is the nickname for the large student section, which takes up most of the northeast corner of seating, and they are an impressive group. The students stand the whole game and participate in cheers for Purdue first downs, the opponent’s third and fourth downs, and sing the fight song after Purdue scores. Before every kickoff, the students take out their keys and jingle them in the air. For those students without keys, the consolation action is to wave up a shoe. This mixture of raised objects is truly a unique sight. Midway through the second half, the song “Shout” comes on over the speakers and the entire student section performs a uniform raising and waving of the arms for several minutes. The fans outside of the student section typically do their part in attending games at Ross-Ade, but the remainder of the stadium is not nearly as vocal in support of their Boilermakers.
The chant of Boiler-Up is a catchy one and will stick with you after hearing it a time or two.
Getting to the stadium via car is easy. Exits and streets are well marked upon point of entry and exit. Parking is easy to find and plentiful as well. Out of towners should read signs carefully. Street parking here seems plentiful but watch signs closely. Most on campus spots near the stadium are empty because they are “too good to be true.” Non Purdue residents cannot park in these open spots meaning fans could get a hefty fine if they aren’t careful and ignore the posted signs. Free parking is available near the RV lots close to the airport. It is a mile walk to the stadium, but you walk by the tailgating scene and get to take in the collegiate atmosphere. The only thing that could throw someone off is how rural the campus is. The main entry points into West Lafayette off of the interstate border farming areas. A wrong turn or two can make you wonder where you are if not using a GPS.
Restrooms are poorly marked and the lines are slow moving. The signs are small and if you take the letters WO off of women you would think it would be the men’s room. Only as you walk towards the entrance do you realize that it is the women’s room. This is possibly because of the signs being next to some jutted out walls. If walking clockwise, no big deal. Counterclockwise however, you will have this difficulty.
Return on Investment 3
Fans can get into a game at Ross-Ade Stadium with a $20 end zone bleacher ticket, a price that is hard to beat in a major conference like the Big Ten. Inside the main bowl, tickets range from $25 to $65 for smaller games, and $32 to $75 for bigger games such as Notre Dame or Ohio State. You really have the ability to pick your price and will experience all the traditions and pride discussed above, so attending a Purdue football game at Ross-Ade Stadium is worth the expenses.
One bonus point for the total college atmosphere. From the college bars, to the unique mascots, to the lively student section, even if you don’t arrive to West Lafayette wearing Old Gold and Black, Purdue and its Boilermaker pride will make an impression on you before you leave. One bonus point for the modernized club and press box which, even without providing seats for the majority of the fans in the stadium, gives the whole stadium the feel of a big time college football venue. Without this press box, the bowl resembles an early-1900s Ivy League stadium. With it, Ross-Ade Stadium is a dominating and beautiful sight on the Purdue campus. This cannot be understated. Without the press box, seeing it would feel like seeing any other on campus building due to its sunken playing surface. One final point for the Purdue band, and their great big drum. they help to make for a great game day experience.
Purdue football over the years has a rich history of good teams and individual players. Known as the cradle of quarterbacks and the den of defensive ends, Purdue has a long standing record of college football glory. Though the team has never won a national title, college football fans know of the glory days with the likes of Drew Brees and Bob Griese.
Food and Drink Recommendations
Tippecanoe Battlefield Park
200 Battleground Ave
Battle Ground, IN 47920
West Lafayette Hilton Garden Inn
356 East State St
West Lafayette, IN 47906
Latest Crowd Reviews
While Purdue has been down for a while, you get a great college football experience at Ross-Ade. You have a lot of things going on here from keeping up with the Boiler/Train themes to tastes of Indiana, and the atmosphere, and just a great vibe on gameday. POSITIVES: The fans stick out to me. Yes, they do not always sell out the venue, even for a power like Michigan coming in, but the ones who are there are nice, friendly and get into the game. If you&#039re tailgating, it feels like family when you&#039re doing it as people next to you will talk and even offer foods. The student section is pretty good as well. You do have a decent variety with foods, mostly with Indiana tastes (pork tenderloin sandwiches among others) and in 2017 they added beer. You&#039re close to the action as there isn&#039t a huge venue so you don&#039t have any nosebleed seating anywhere so that&#039s an added bonus. And one of the things I noticed was how friendly the fans were to opposing fans, even from conference rivals. And I dug the Boiler trains to and from the venue which is pretty unique. NEGATIVES: Well, from an architectural standpoint, nothing really stands out at Purdue. It is just bowl seating with a horseshoe layout and a large press/luxury boxes on the west sideline. The other blip is finding a parking spot can be difficult there as you are well away from Ross-Ade and some of the parking spots when it rains are mud pits. Overall, Ross-Ade was a no-frills football stadium. But it serves its purpose for a Saturday afternoon college football game. And it is definitely an underrated place.