Update from Scott – I read Zach’s article below and have a completely different take on this. Read Zach’s thoughts below and then see my thoughts in green following the article.
Looking back on it, we all know the exact moment we know Facebook had moved from trend-of-the-young-person to something that was here to stay. It was when you opened up your email and saw that your mom had sent you a friend request.
We’ve reached a similar point in the party plaza era of the in-person football experience. Purdue has announced plans for its own party plaza to debut this fall. “Fans who are young and young at heart should find the new Ross-Ade Stadium South End Zone Patio to be a sensational addition to their Purdue football game-day experience,” the official announcement reads.
Kansas pioneered the luxury end zone seating trend back in 2008, and the Jacksonville Jaguars pushed it to its zenith this summer by installing poolside cabanas in their north end zones, and now it moves to the festive atmosphere of Midwestern noon kickoffs.
Getting fans to games is hard these days, especially when the promise of going home with a victory is tenuous at best. Transforming an area of the stadium that was hard to fill in the first place into a luxury experience is smart business.
Ross-Ade Stadium’s South End Zone will be something of an extended tailgating experience for season-ticket olders and students who have purchased a VIP card. Gates open 90 minutes before kickoff and will remain that way throughout the game.
“Anchored by a 3,200-square-foot high-peak tent, the space will also feature several pergolas and an array of patio-style furniture, including tables with umbrellas. Fans will be able to purchase typical tailgate food and beverage, including beer and wine. Six 46-inch televisions will be mounted throughout,” the announcement says.
Purdue says the plaza is a temporary solution as the university searches for a more permanent decision on what to do with its south end zone seating area. The Boilermakers knocked out approximately 6,100 seats “in order to avoid necessary maintenance to the bleachers.” The South End Zone Plaza holds a maximum capacity of 1,500.
Purdue ranked 56th nationally in terms of attendance by percent of capacity, filling 78.3 percent of Ross Ade Stadium for its seven home games. Overall attendance jumped by 5,365 fans per game in Darrell Hazell’s first season, growing from 43,588 to 48,953.
Update from Scott – So I see this as a very smart idea from Purdue’s administration. They weren’t consistently filling the stadium to capacity so they looked at what they could do to improve the overall gameday experience. They eliminated some lower value / revenue end zone seating and replaced it with a high value / revenue unique experience that I think fans will truly enjoy. This is the type of “upgrade” that fans are willing to pay for and I think Purdue fans will want to keep and enhance this plaza going forward.