Sitting all cozy on the northern edge of the Boilermaker's campus is Ross-Ade Stadium, daring visiting teams to enter amidst the potential sweltering heat or dramatic chill and, either way, adoring fanfare. Prior to calling this home, Purdue competed at Lafayette YMCA Park from 1889-91 and Stuart Field from 1892 to 1924.
In the fall of 1922 the announcement came that alumni David Ross and George Ade had purchased a 65-acre plot of land on which they intended to build a football stadium and corresponding facilities. Construction didn't start until June 2, 1924, and included three city lots donated from George Spitzer and a university professor. Today the entrance to the stadium sits on those three lots and honors the donors through the immaculately manicured plot known as Cary Quad and Spitzer Court.
The stadium opened its doors Nov. 22, 1924, with a 26-7 Boilermaker win over intrastate rival Indiana. The big place sat 13,500, with standing room for another 5,000. It eventually would grow to its present capacity of 62,500. The largest crowd to witness a game at Ross-Ade Stadium come during a November 1980 matchup against Indiana that drew 71,629 fans.
The turf that the Boilermakers seek to protect saw some troubles in 2005 due to blistering fall conditions; sod was coming up in chunks. School officials and experts sought out a long-term solution, and a cold-tolerant strain of Bermuda grass was found and deemed the best possible solution. What resulted was the laying of the first Bermuda sod in the Big Ten.
The Boilermakers nickname derives from a bit of an insult to the men and women in the early days of the university, when the educational institution looked to provide a "working-man" education to its students.
By the early 1890s Purdue was being recognized as a dominant football powerhouse in Indiana, where DePauw, Wabash and Butler had been the cream of the crop in the state. The opening game of the 1891 season saw a Purdue team take Wabash to task with a 44-0 victory. Afterward, the newspaper in Crawfordsville, Ind., lashed out at the Purdue "eleven" for their injustice against an "obvious" higher educational institution, characterizing the players as "coal heavers, boiler makers and stevedores."
The Boilermakers have been called worse, or better, over the years, with such verbal jabs as grangers, pumpkin-shuckers, railsplitters, cornfield sailors, blacksmiths and foundry hands thrown at them.