Stadium Guide: Mackey Arena

Last week I attended my 50th game inside of Mackey Arena. It is kind of ironic to me that the game would not involve a Purdue team, and that Notre Dame was the ‘home team’ for the game. The bulk of the fifty games that I have seen inside of Mackey have come in the last 3 years when I became a men’s and women’s season ticket holder. I had only been in the stadium a couple of times before 2005. So without further adieu here is my very biased stadium guide for Mackey Arena. This will have to be redone in a couple of years after the renovation is complete. They are going to do some great things to the old arena. I will post on that when things are a little closer to happening. I wanted to post this last week, but things have been crazy lately. I am trying to balance work, my sports addiction, and this blog. The blog has been losing out.
Location A: Mackey Arena is located on Northwestern Avenue right next to the Purdue football stadium. They have multiple ways to get to the stadium, and if you know the area you can avoid the heavy traffic. You are also close to many highways and I65 is not too far away.
Parking A-: Multiple parking lots and parking on the street is available. You can pay $5 and park in the lot north of the football stadium, or you can park on one of the many streets in between the arena and the local high school. If you park in the $5 lot you may have a small wait in line to get out. The lot is small enough though that the wait is usually not too long unless it is a huge game. The majority of fans with no parking passes park on the streets. This does not get a higher grade because no matter where you park you have at least a half mile walk to the stadium if not more. Not a huge deal, but it is not ideal.
Ushers A: As I said before I am a season ticket holder so I know the ushers in my area very well. The women at the gate I usually enter are so nice that even though you can enter at any gate I will go out of my way sometimes to go through the same gate. If the game is big you can expect to have your ticket checked when you go into the lower bowl of the arena. Other than that the ushers are very friendly. They are employees of Andy Frain who does security for most Purdue sporting events.
Tradition A: Hanging from the rafters of Mackey are banners commemorating every Big Ten title, NIT title, and post season triumph that both the men’s and women’s teams have accomplished. They also have banners for every all american for both teams. The banners are well done. The only problem that I have with them is that there are not more of them. Maybe we can add to that in the next few years. As you walk around the concourse they have small displays for a lot of the olympic sports on the campus. That setup is very similar to the one at Crisler Arena. It is no wonder since both stadiums were built at the same time.
Concessions B+: About every two sections of the stadium has its own concession stand. The prices are fair, and the selection is the normal college game fare. A hot dog will run you $3 as will a water. You can also get a souvenir soda for $3, but the cup is very small. The only time that I have seen long lines is at halftime, or just before the game. If you go any other time you can usually just walk up and order. The stands are run on gameday by local groups who work for tips. During the women’s tournament this past week the local baseball teams had the stands. They were saving for a trip to Cooperstown this year. The groups are always nice, and they will gladly tell you about their cause if you let them. I had trouble giving the concessions an A because of the pricing versus what you get. They are a little higher than some of the other arenas I have been to.
Bathrooms A: Here is one area that this stadium does well in. They have a bathroom every three sections or so. The bathrooms are large, and split in two so that people aren’t cramped in a small area. They really seem to have thought this one out.
Scoreboard A-: Here is another area that I like about the stadium. They have a great scoreboard that hangs down from center court. They also have four information boards that give greater detail than the main one can. I love the video board. They do some great things with it including the ever popular Russian or Rubbish during women’s basketball games. The one thing that makes this an A- is the fact that they now think its cute to show fans making faces when they think a bad call has been made on the court. I want to see the play again, not a pre taped goof off with fans. What should get it an A+ is the addition of Bogdonova doing Russian or Rubbish. The auxiliary boards give the points and fouls of each player during play. When play is stopped they give deep stats for both teams and players. On the picture above you can see the main scoreboard with one of the auxiliary boards in the background.
Tickets B+: Tickets are fairly cheap. If you can’t get into the stadium just find the ‘fat guy’ outside of the McDonalds near the stadium. He gets tickets from Purdue alumni and if you have Purdue on he will help you get into the game. He is now becoming a celebrity on campus. If you want to buy tickets from the ticket office here are the prices. Men’s are $18 for non conference and $23 for Big Ten games. To get into a women’s game it is only $10. That is a bargain.
Fans B+: For the most part the fans are civil inside the arena. For the men’s games the lower bowl is filled with John Purdue Club members who have accrued many points. To do that takes years so the fans near the court tend to be older. This past year the student section called the ‘Paint Crew’ really stepped it up. They were a difference maker in some of the games in my opinion. They really helped get everyone up by their enthusiasm. They are a fairly new group that just seems to be getting stronger. They even tried to camp out five days in below zero weather for a game this year before the university shut it down. Hopefully they can keep growing and become a force to be reckoned with. The women have the ‘Gold Mine’ for their student section. They have about 20 die hard fans that attend every game. The ones that come seem to be enthused though. The women do not outdraw the men, but they do well for themselves. They average about 9,000 a game, and are always in the top ten in attendance. The reason I gave this section a B+ is because of the other fans. Sometimes they just sit on their hands. I want to see some action from the fans. I may be harsh here, but I just want to see some excitement from all the fans.
Local Food and Entertainment A-: Harry’s Chocolate Shoppe is a popular bar on campus that most people make a point to stop at. Near the stadium is a coffee shop attached to the football stadium, a McDonalds, Jimmie John’s, Mad Mushroom Pizza, and a bar that changes hands every season. Being a college town you can find just about anything that you want within a reasonable driving distance. One suggestion is to try McGraw’s which is south of town off of 26. It is a little pricey, but a great place to grab an after game meal. Bruno’s Pizza which is down by the levee is also a great place for a meal. I gave this section the minus because you have to drive a little way to get to a few places. To me it is not a big deal, but to some it could be.
Overall A: As I said in the opening this would almost have to be a biased stadium guide. I just cannot distance myself from all the things that I have seen in the building, and the fact that I graduated from Purdue. I am sure over the next year we will see some more biased guides as I profile some stadiums that I have been to many times. In these biased guides maybe something useful will come out.
Interesting Facts:
The arena originally cost $6 million dollars to build.
The upcoming renovation is scheduled to cost $82 million
Capacity: 14,123
First Game: 12/2/1967 v. UCLA
Originally named Purdue Arena
Renamed Mackey Arena in 1972
Court replaced before 1997-1998 season. Court was renamed ‘Keady Court’ then


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