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July 8, 2014

Purdue unveils south end zone 'patio'


Morgan Burke didn't want Purdue's temporary south end zone to look like a "county fair."

And based on pictures and information being released Tuesday, his plan might succeed. The temporary plan for the south end zone, where the now-torn-down bleachers sat previously, calls for a landscaped platform - officials are calling it the "South End Zone Patio" - with a 3,200-square-foot, high-peak tent, two pergola areas and various other seating and standing options. It will include six 46-inch televisions, allowing fans to watch Purdue and other college football games.

Season-ticket holders, including students who have purchased VIP cards, will be able to access the south end zone area, via the staircases on the southeast and southwest sides of Ross-Ade Stadium (sections 101 and 129), or by leaving and re-entering through Gate A or Gate N. Those eligible will be given a special "Access Pass" to gain admission. Space, however, is limited to 1,500 fans at a time, with the patio opening 90 minutes before kickoff and closing at the end of the game. It will have four access points, two on the west and two on the east sides.

"I think it will be a plus to the season ticket holders and I think it will appeal to the young and young at heart," said Burke, Purdue's athletic director, last month, when the department decided to move early on the project.

Also, tailgate-style food, beer and wine will be available for purchase in the area, but fans will not be able to leave with those to other parts of Ross-Ade. The patio, which covers about 16,000-square feet, will also be the game-day home to the Boilermaker Special and will be decorated in a theme honoring the Boilermakers' "Cradle of Quarterbacks" and "Den of Defensive Ends."

A month ago, Purdue decided to rid itself of the south end zone bleachers, citing costs to maintain the structures against long-term plans to tear them down. In the fall, Burke says Purdue plans to have a design contest, allowing half a dozen architecture firms conceive plans for a permanent structure. Those designs would be based off of fan feedback, via an online survey, along with those of the administration and others. At this point, Purdue has only loose concepts, but cost and design isn't firm.

Burke says the temporary plan will also be used to generate feedback on a long-term project.

"Think of it has an extension as the marketing survey," he said. "We'll have enough input so that when we're really ready to go, we won't have some fans out here saying 'Well, why didn't they do this, or that?' We have to narrow. Ultimately, it's about creating an experience for the fans that gets them off the couch and into the stadium."

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