The Purdue Athletic Department is looking into giving Ross-Ade a bit of a face-lift.
Several concepts have been presented by HNTB construction company to remodel the south end zone. HNTB has done construction on other projects like the renovation of Mackey arena. The last time construction was done at Ross-Ade was 2003 and it did not involve the south end zone. The construction done on Ross-Ade was to fix the concrete around the stadium. Now the athletic department is floating three ideas to redesign the bleachers that have been a staple in the south end zone for 50 years. The plans, however, would decrease seating from 62,500 to 57,500 in the stadium.
One concept calls for simply removing the bleachers from the stadium and landscaping the grassy area where the bleachers used to be in a decorative fashion. Another plan that was presented entailed putting in different seating and moving the student section to the south end zone. Athletic director Morgan Burke was not fond of the idea of displacing the students.
“I think it has some merit to it, but I really don’t think the students would be into it,” Burke said. “They might like the south end zone, the way it’s going to be reworked, but it just seemed like a pretty steep hill to climb.”
The third idea would be terrace level seating with a club underneath. Burke liked the idea of an open-space club where people could walk around and socialize with one another. This idea is in part to appeal to the younger graduates who want to come back with several friends and enjoy a game.
“To me when somebody leaves school they have quite got to the point where they’re married, (have) kids and all that stuff, they’re coming back to see their buddies and friends,” Burke said. “We don’t really have a good young peoples mingling space. “
All three ideas include adding a new video scoreboard in the south end zone and a smaller video board above the north end zone. Also the plans include landscaping the area around the south end zone.
Since the story has surfaced, Burke said the feedback he has gotten is about how space should be decorated. There have been several blogs that have drawn up renderings with decorative ideas they would like to see in the south end zone.
“We’re trying to figure out what the house scope looks like and they want to put the paintings on the wall,” Burke said. “They’re afraid we’ll forget the locomotive or we won’t put themes into it ... that’s the easiest part.”
The south end zone has the most affordable seating in Ross-Ade, which has caused concern for some who think they may not be able to afford coming to see the football team. However, Burke insists a plan for affordable seating in the north end zone will be put in place.
“You can make the price points so you don’t take people out of the stadium,” Burke said. “That’s why I keep saying we’ll have an option, we can do family friendly pricing in the north (end zone). I don’t think people have to worry about that.”
Josh Helmholdt, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, said stadiums play a large role in a recruits decision to attend a school.
“The game day atmosphere, the stadium (and) playing in front of x amount of fans, all of that is factored in and considered, and part of that vibe that they get from their experience on campus,” Helmholdt said.
There is no timetable for the new design as it is still in its infancy and Burke still has to meet with Purdue president Mitch Daniels and the Board of Trustees. Also, the ideas have to be surveyed by the public to see how they receive the different concepts.