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Tim Costello Submits New South End Zone Design

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An ambitious design for Ross-Ade’s South End zone would make it the most unique stadium in college football.

Purdue has already unleashed rendering of the south end zone if we ever get around to renovating it, but alum Tim Costello has some better ideas. They, in fact, are radical ideas that would give Ross-Ade Stadium one of the most unique game experiences ever. He submitted some mock-ups today to me via e-mail, so let’s take a look:

Yes, not only does it dramatically change the South End zone, it gives Purdue A REAL, LIVE FUNCTIONING STEAM LOCOMOTIVE THAT WOULD GO IN AND OUT OF THE STADIUM AND ROTATE ON A TURNTABLE!!!

These two pictures are very rough mockups, but here is a closer detailed view.

Yes, the new design would center on an actual train turntable in the plaza there, which would rotate as the game went along, but there is a larger purpose here. See the tracks coming out of a tunnel on the southwest corner of the structure and on to Wooden Drive? That would become an actual fan train on game days to the engineering mall! Here is how he explains it:

Purdue football has been called “the elephant in the room,” but, off the field, “a white elephant” would emerge under the preliminary plan revealed last year for the stadium’s south end. In a word, it’s a misfit. It would merely plug the gap with stacks of open boxes and steel suites, resembling a tiered urban driving range inside a bullet-train terminal instead of the finishing touch for Ross-Ade Stadium.

Fortunately, the department shifted focus to the much-needed team facility, setting the stadium plan aside. Meanwhile, that draft should be rethought. Rather than attempting to sell the worst views in the house as premium suites, Purdue would be better served to develop a fully unique attraction that best reflects its own traditions and most compelling image -- a live steam locomotive, posed on a turntable, backed by the brick Ross-Ade Roundhouse to finish the stadium bowl.

I’ve revisited and revised the Roundhouse plans -- the concept I’d originally submitted two years ago -- to which Morgan Burke originally responded by asking to forward my images to the competing architects as “an idea provoker.” However, their renderings unveiled in 2015 were fully out of context for our classic stadium. Conversely, the Roundhouse meshes our traditional motif with modern amenities while offering VIP lounges and cheap seats alike, all overlooking an inspiring icon.

Imagine reactions to the team entering behind a real, fired, billowing loco, steaming into the stadium. Nothing could top it. Thinking farther outside the box, tracks embedded in campus avenues could extend south to link with fan trains from Indianapolis and Chicago (much like Iowa’s Hawkeye Express), while routinely serving as a cross-campus trolley line and a direct route for dinner and tour trains.

Michigan State poses another model. Students restored a locomotive to lead football excursions. Their club evolved into a not-for-profit corporation, forming the Steam Railroading Institute. Their Pere Marquette now runs as a Polar Express.

I’m sure the Roundhouse concept would draw -- and sustain -- far more fans than the secluded stacks. It would provide a year-round attraction of wide appeal by bringing Purdue’s oldest and foremost image to life. And, more importantly, more people will be more willing to pay for it, even if it is a truly loco idea.

Here is a further map of how the train would connect to campus.

I must say, I am stunned speechless by this design. It is ambitious to say the least (and quite likely VERY expensive), but visually, it would be stunning.

ED NOTE: Tim contacted me with some further clarification:

I’d like to clarify some issues raised in the comments on my Roundhouse plans, since some details may be hard to see, while others need explanation.

First, full-size, live-steam locomotives operate in and around large crowds safely and routinely these days in such nearby locations as Fort Wayne, Ind., Monticello, Ill. (near Champaign), Union, Ill. (near Chicago) and Owosso, Mich. (near Lansing) -- the latter having been first restored by Michigan State students. If Sparty can manage a real steam loco, why not Boilermakers in an old rail town?

A 120-foot turntable can handle the largest locomotives plus their attached tenders. It allows a reversal of direction for return trips; otherwise the loco could only back through campus. The turntable deck would be a plaza for fans, entering the Roundhouse through the two service stalls that double as admission gates.

Any end-zone seats should be at family friendly prices (Roundhouse or not), and the loco alone would attract many there. The terraced mega lounge, looking out to the deck and field, would offer year-round dining and drinks with circle booths and big screens, like the Fox Sports Midwest Live! in Ballpark Village in St. Louis. Above all, the stadium’s main interior concourse would finally be connected as a full oval, as would the seating bowl.

A brick retro look fits Ross-Ade; dazzle fits the new team facility.

Wooden Drive wouldn’t be lost to the entry grade; instead, traffic would move from the current single lane into the two outer lanes now used for parking, which in turn would be replaced by the Roundhouse’s lower-level garage, providing more spaces than now available in the whole area.

A railway connecting with the active railroad south of campus would usually serve as a cross-campus trolley route (not using the steam engine) but also would allow for outside rail access. On game days, the locomotive would leave its shuttle cars on a Stadium Mall siding before entering the stadium just ahead of the team -- smoke, bells, whistles, bedlam.

And I apologize if my renderings don’t look professional. They aren’t. They’re home-made by a fan, using Microsoft Publisher shapes and seven photos, so any comparison to Sims or PlayStation is a huge compliment. I’d love to see an actual architect adopt and adapt the truly loco idea.