Four Sad, Strange Facts About Ross-Ade Stadium

No one knows it’s the only stadium ever named after a comedy writer

Even most Purdue fans don’t know who David Ross and George Ade are, the principal benefactors and namesakes of Ross-Ade Stadium. The former was an inventor and major Purdue donor who led the efforts to build a new stadium in the early 1920s. The latter was also a Boilermaker, and one of America’s best-known authors, playwrights, and humorists, satirizing Midwestern norms in the mold of his idol, Mark Twain. Ross-Ade is surely the only stadium ever named after a comedy writer, and it’s a shame more people aren’t aware of that unique distinction.

It wouldn’t have been built had Purdue’s president not fallen off a mountain

At the beginning of the 1920s, David Ross advocated for a new football stadium, but was opposed by Purdue’s longtime president, Winthrop Stone, an academic who didn’t think athletics had a place at a university. A stalemate ensued. And then President Stone went on a mountain climbing expedition in Alberta and became the first person to ever summit Eon Mountain. Minutes later, he fell to his death, and plans for a new stadium ultimately went forward.

It’s shrinking in its old age

Most stadiums are enlarged over time. Ross-Ade is gradually shrinking, like an organism that will ultimately die. Now in its nineties, the stadium has been getting progressively smaller since its mid-sixties. Here’s its capacity over time:

57,236 (2014–present)
62,500 (2003–2013)
66,295 (2002)
67,332 (1998–2001)
67,861 (1988–1997)
69,200 (1970–1987)
68,000 (1969)
60,000 (1964–1968)
55,500 (1955–1963)
51,295 (1949–1954)
23,074 (1930–1948)
13,500 (1924–1929)

It’s a terrible place to be after dark

Purdue mostly comes out and loses at night. Mostly. Ross-Ade has only hosted 8 night games. Which are supposed to pump up fans and give an added home field advantage. But Purdue is a ghastly 1-7 in those contests, the only win coming in a throwaway game against Toledo in 1994. Here are all of Ross-Ade’s nocturnal contests:

October 18, 1986 Ohio State L 11–39
September 10, 1994 Toledo W 51–17
September 21, 1996 West Virginia L 6–20
October 1, 2005 Notre Dame L 28–49
October 6, 2007 Ohio State L 7–23
September 26, 2009 Notre Dame L 21–24
October 1, 2011 Notre Dame L 10–38
September 14, 2013 Notre Dame L 24–31

Know any other strange, sad facts about old Ross-Ade Stadium? Leave em in the comments.

Image via Jarret Callahan / CC BY-NC 2.0