May 13, 2010

Burke: Ross-Ade upper deck has to happen

Athletics director Morgan Burke has shown over the years that he's a facilities type of guy.

So after the $100 million Mackey Arena renovation and expansion is completed in the fall of 2011, Burke's attention may be directed toward Ross-Ade Stadium again and seeing that Phase II of that project gets completed.

To refresh your memories Phase II of the Ross-Ade project would add an upper deck on the east side.

"It's in the wings waiting," said Burke when recently asked him for an update on the upper deck.

"It's got to happen. That one will finance itself. I want to do it, but I'm in a Catch 22 because I don't have the money unless he's (Coach Danny Hope) hitting it."

Translation? Hitting it means winning.

"If he's hitting it and there's excitement, than (it can be justified)," Burke said. "Your plate is full until '12. You literally can't do more than you're doing."

An upper deck, which would include approximately 15 suites adding to the stadium's already 34 suites on the west side, would give Purdue more prime seats between say the 20-yard lines.

The upper deck would likely consist of 8,500 seats, but the plan would include leveling of the south end zone bleachers. That demolition would eliminate 7,000 seats. Under such a scenario, Ross-Ade's capacity would increase to between 65,000-66,000.

Once the south-end bleachers go, Burke would like to see that area become a nicely landscaped hill with better sightlines to the campus. To achieve that, the current scoreboard/videoboard would have to be changed to be more rectangular in nature.

Phase I of Ross-Ade's renovation project cost $70 million and was finished in 2003.

There are plans for a Phase III, which would add a deck on the north end of the stadium, but whether that ever gets done remains to be seen.

If all three phases were finished, the cost would exceed a combined $100 million.

Although the Ross-Ade upper deck project won't take place until after work on Mackey is finished, Purdue's baseball program will be getting a much-needed new facility over the next 18 months or so.

For quite some time now Purdue's baseball program has had its "Field of Dreams campaign" going to "bring its baseball facility up-to-date with those of its Big Ten Conference brethren."

Well, the wait for a state-of-the-art facility may soon be over as plans for a new home for the Boilermaker baseball team could be announced as early as this summer.

Lambert Field has been the home to Purdue baseball since 1965, but that's going to change.

"Baseball is definitely on the current (plan)," Burke said. "We could have some plans that are ready by summer that would allow something to begin to happen in the fall (of 2010).

"They'll play this year and next year (at their current location). If everything goes (according to plan), you would be ready to move them in '12, which is important if they're going to do the Co-Rec because they need parking."

The Co-Rec is about to undergo a $100 million renovation and expansion project. Initial construction activity should start very soon as plans call for the project to be completed by the fall of 2012.

The new baseball facility will be located near the corner of Cherry Lane and McCormick Road in the same general area as the Schwartz Tennis Center and the Varsity Soccer Complex.

"This (a new baseball facility) is part of the overall Mackey complex," Burke said.

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