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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Mackey Arena – Purdue Boilermakers

Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Mackey Arena 900 N John R Wooden Dr West Lafayette, IN 47907

Year Opened: 1967

Capacity: 14,804


Lighting Up the Mackey Arena

The Purdue Boilermakers have called the Mackey Arena home since 1967. The 14,804 facilities cost $6 million to construct and were designed by Walter Scholer and Associates Inc. to replace Lambert Fieldhouse.

Throughout its half-century of use, the facility has seen numerous renovations, but most importantly was the $99.5 million Mackey Complex Project that was completed in 2012 that tripled the concourse area, increased the number of concession areas and restrooms, and added premium seats in the lower section.

The changes have enhanced the fan experience at Mackey Arena, an older facility with aesthetically pleasing charm, but with all the comforts of a modern arena. The dome-shaped roof provides unobstructed views of the court from the seats and a noise level that provides a strong home-field advantage.

Originally named Purdue Arena for its first five years. It was renamed after Guy Mackey who served Purdue sports for 46 years as its athletic director from 1942 until his death on February 22, 1971.

Food & Beverage 4

Mackey Arena features your usual stadium menu items plus a few interesting creations tailor-made for Purdue basketball fans. The Mackey Burger is a cheeseburger with bacon and macaroni and cheese that sells for $10, the giant pork tenderloin sandwich for $7, and lastly, the Mike Ditka chicken sausage for $7.

If you’re looking for value then the barbecue wrap for $3 is a steal. It’s a flour tortilla stuffed with either pulled pork, pulled chicken, or beef brisket. If you still have a craving for BBQ then try it on a bun for $10 or top it over nachos for 7.

Then again the common hot dog, nacho, chili cheese dog, and walking taco are also available between $4 and $7. You can wash that down with any Coca-Cola product that sells for $5 or in a commemorative cup for $8.

Atmosphere 5

They enjoy basketball here at Purdue and when you can pack in near-capacity crowds on a nightly basis the atmosphere is going to be fun, exciting, and deafening. It all starts with fans taking out their phones for the BoilerLights app that allows them to use their smartphones during pregame festivities and participate in a synchronized light show that is produced by themselves.

The dome-shaped structure of the roof and the symmetrical design of the arena provide an almost unobstructed view of the playing court and great acoustics during the game. The majority of the seats are bleacher-style and are somewhat cramped when the crowds are big. On the west end of the lower area is premium seating. However, there is not a bad seat in the house and sometimes you gain a great vantage point from all that’s occurring throughout the building.

There are various banners of past championship teams and retired jersey numbers from both the men’s and women’s sides. A giant video scoreboard hovers over the court named after legendary basketball coach Gene Keady who coached the men’s team for 25 years.

Purdue Pete can be seen throughout the lower level of the arena and maybe a few places on the main concourse floor. He can be seen stroking up the crowd that can become one of the loudest in the nation along with the cheerleaders and the students in the Paint Crew section.

There is also a modest collection of paraphernalia throughout the concourse that shows glimpses of the basketball team’s past through old uniforms, trophies, jerseys, and newspaper articles. Glass trophy cases are scattered around that are both entertaining and revealing about the basketball program.

Neighborhood 4

The Chauncey Village neighborhood features quite a bit of funky little shops and restaurants, plus some great nightlife destinations. Von’s Shops offers an impressive array of new and used books, clothing, and other items in eclectic buildings and storefronts.

Next door is Von’s Dough Shack where customers choose their type of calzone and enjoy it fresh from the oven. If you are not the creative type, there are 34 varieties to choose from off the menu.

Just across the street is the famous Triple XXX Family Restaurant where one can enjoy a peanut butter burger or homemade root beer inside its small, cozy, and narrow booths. The small building features narrow countertops and bar stools.

If you are adventurous and want to expand your taste buds, Shaukin Indian Fast Food might be just the place during your visit. This is not your standard Indian fare, but Indian street food that is lively in taste and spice. Most items are well below $10 and you can take it to go and enjoy it across the street at The Pint.

If you are a craft beer fan, People’s Brewing Company is located 3 miles north of the high school and is one of the better places for local beer in the state. Pints are $5 and are a dollar less on Wednesdays. Lafayette Brewing Company is the other craft beer option in town with $2 off of pints on Wednesday nights as well.

Fans 5

Purdue fans are just as boisterous as any other group in Indiana and sometimes they are overlooked by their rivals down in Bloomington. However, the colors here are black and gold, and when the team is hot, the fans are in a frenzy.

One gentleman swears that Mackey Arena is the best venue in the Big Ten and dares anyone to disagree with him. I would say he is somewhat biased, but when you have a wide-open view of the fans cheering in unison, why argue?

Access 3

West Lafayette is off of I-65 and is about a 15-20 minute ride to campus after that. If driving, take exit 175 (IN-25) towards Lafayette/Delphi and follow the signs toward campus and the arena. Mackey Arena is next to the football stadium and shares the same parking lot. The renovated outer concourse is much bigger and provides quick access to bathrooms, exits, and concession stands.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets can be found on the secondary market for as little as $12 for smaller schools or non-Big Ten rivals to $200 when Indiana University visits the Boilermakers. The return on investment will depend on who is playing, but most of the time tickets should range between $40-$50 a person. The cost of parking is also reasonable, between $10-$20, depending on what garage or lot you park in for the game.

Extras 3

1 star for the BoilerBall Lights app that allows users in attendance an interactive engagement tool that enhances the game-day atmosphere at the game.

2 stars for the collection of history in various glass cases on the main concourse. Visitors can enjoy the history of Mackey Arena, Purdue uniforms of the past, and legends who once played or coached at the school.

3 stars for offering a $3 menu item at the game. The barbecue wrap is price-friendly and the perfect size for kids.

Final Thoughts

Mackey Arena is one of the many reasons why people love their basketball in Indiana. A classic arena that has served many memories was rebuilt with 21st-century comfort and charm. An evening watching Boilermaker basketball is one of the reasons why basketball is king in this past part of the country.

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