Purdue University, located in West Lafayette, Indiana, is part of the Big Ten Conferences’s West Division. The team plays at Ross-Ade Stadium, which replaced the old Stuart Field in 1924. The stadium currently seats 57,000 people; however, it previously held over 70,000 in a game against state rival and fierce foe, the University of Indiana, back in the early 1980s.
Purdue goes by the nickname “Boilermaker,” a title earned after opposing teams believed Purdue was hiring local boilermakers onto the football team. That name came at a time when Purdue was just beginning, which was in the infancy of college football. A “special” in the locomotive industry is a train that is unscheduled and therefore considered special. In the past, fans would call trains that transported the team a “Boilermaker Special.”
This unique train also takes on the role of a mascot for Purdue fans. On game days, you’ll notice the Boilermaker Special, an old-timey train replica built on the chassis of a vehicle which cruises around campus before arriving at the stadium. Purdue Pete, with a hard hat and a large sledgehammer in tow, serves as the school’s costumed mascot.
Purdue University first fielded a football team in 1887, and their first national championship came decades later in 1931. Since 2010, the Boilermakers have attended four bowl games, of which they won three. Perdue’s Boilermakers have held their own over the years in football but also bring a powerhouse basketball team to the delight of fans.
Load up your motorhome and head to West Lafayette, Indiana to see the team play and tailgate at Ross-Ade Stadium. Perdue University welcomes RVers to stay overnight, making a stop here central to many locations across the nation.
The Boilermakers belong to a strong conference with tough competitors, but, considering the cost to see other teams in the same conference, tickets to see a game are often less. On average, tickets in the past have sold for between $30 and $40, but that may change depending on your seat and that weekend’s opponent. Basketball is king in Indiana, and the Boilermakers’ basketball team is one to witness, especially if they’re playing against the Hoosiers.
On game days, do keep an eye out for road closures. The two roads adjacent to the stadium close on game days, and there are other road closures before and after a game. West Lafayette, where Purdue is located, is right in between the cities of Indianapolis, and Chicago, Illinois and about an hour and a half south of Lake Erie. Columbus, Ohio is just a few hours to the east along I-70.
Good news for all who wish to drive their RV to the stadium! Beginning the evening the day before the game, fans can park at one of the four RV lots. Two of those lots, however, are strictly for members of the John Purdue Club. The other two lots, lot RV2 and lot RV4, are available for day-of-game RV parking. Better yet, it has only cost about $60 to park there in recent years.
Purdue University is generous when it comes to transportation, offering their shuttle to all fans free of charge. The shuttle service begins three hours before the game kicks off, and it ends one hour after the final whistle. There are pickup locations near lots RV2 and RV4. There is also an ADA shuttle for guests with disabilities.
Staying overnight from Friday to Saturday is possible in Purdue RV parking lots. Load up your Airstream kitchen shelves, fill your tanks, and empty your gray and black tanks before arriving. Amenities are not available at the universities overnight lots, so this is your time to enjoy the Class A and settle in for the weekend. If you’re well-provisioned, it may not be an issue, but there are alternative camping options nearby which you may want to consider.
Though the camping options in the area don’t number in the dozens, there are still some quality locations that should be great to camp at for a few nights. Prophetstown State Park sits near the Wabash River and welcomes even the largest RVs to stay within a 20-minute drive of Boilermaker games.
Crawfordsville KOA, about 45 minutes south, offers hookups, Wi-Fi, a pool, and many other amenities. Apart from the comforts, the campground is full of trees and other greenery that make for a relaxing view.
When you’re at Ross-Ade stadium, the best way to get around is the shuttle. Not only is it free, but it picks up passengers from many locations, including the RV parking lots. Driving around campus, especially near the stadium, on game day may take some patience due to road closures and heavy pedestrian traffic.
In September and October, don’t worry too much about packing warm clothing. Instead, pack cool clothing that is breathable and comfortable to wear in the sun. Once November comes around, it might be best to pack multiple layers, thick socks, and maybe a beanie or scarf. Better to overpack and be prepared than to be cold during an outdoor football game.
Since grilling is allowed at the RV lot, it’s a good idea to bring your grill. You may also want to bring an ice chest to keep refreshments cool and a few chairs for you and your guests to relax. If standing in the sun for a long time doesn’t suit you, bring a canopy tent. Black and gold touches for your tailgate or campsite are also good additions for your adventure to Boilermaker country.
The best way to stay safe at a tailgate is by making sure the grill is secure and that kids and adults alike know when it is in use. If a minor accident does happen, such as a burn, scrape, or cut, be prepared by having a first aid kit in your RV. It might make the difference between a good time and a bad time.
If you’re grilling on campus, remember not to dump any coals or grease on the campus grounds. Before you unleash your grillmaster skills, stock up on groceries from the local supermarket, or make a stop along the way into West Lafayette. Folks from Indiana do love their pork tenderloin sandwiches, which is an excellent idea for a tailgate dish.
You’ll find that this college town has many pizzerias and steakhouses, but there are also a few Chinese, Mexican, and Indian restaurants. Apart from the affordable college dining options, West Lafayette also has a handful of eclectic dining options, including Irish pub-style settings or French cuisine with an American touch.
On the north side of the stadium, stock up on all the best Purdue-branded gear. If you forgot your favorite tee or ball cap, the team store inside the stadium is the best to shop for black and old gold gear.
After a few beverages, you might find that you need a bite to eat, but not to worry, Ross-Ade Stadium provides a bountiful feast. Visit one of the many concessions within the stadium and take your pick. If you’re feeling particularly prideful of the Boilermakers, try the Black and Gold Dog, which comes with chili, onions, and cheese. Fans may find other signature foods to try, too!
Before entering Ross-Ade Stadium, Boilermaker fans will first go through security, which strictly prohibits any non-clear bags from entering the stadium. With the exception of a small clutch purse, fans are not allowed to enter with backpacks, large purses, camera cases, or any other non-clear bags. As a last resort, you may use a clear food storage bag to store your items.
The weather in West Lafayette is warm in the summer, with the average high temperature often topping out at 85 degrees in mid-July. The start of the football season might be cool and pleasant, but it quickly begins to get colder as the season progresses. In December, as the season wraps up, the average low temperature is below freezing.
If you or someone you know need medical attention, head to one of the first-aid stations located in sections 111 and 119. If you’re lost, ask a stadium staff member for assistance at Ross-Ade Stadium or Mackey Arena. A hospital is 15 minutes away from Purdue University by car with pharmacy options even closer if needed.