SOUTH BEEND, Indiana – Purdue’s famous giant bass drum sparked a major controversy ahead of Saturday’s road game at Notre Dame Stadium.
After being told that the world’s largest drum would not be allowed onto the field through the entrance to the Notre Dame stadium home, Purdue’s All-American Band will perform in the first half without a drum for the first time since 1979. Purdue University spokesperson Aaron Yoder said, On Friday, the band still planned to bring in the mega drum and keep it off the field “for fans to enjoy before the game.”
But a Notre Dame official told ESPN Friday that Purdue had not contacted the university to ask for permission to bring the drum onto campus and he thought it wouldn’t be there.
The spat between state schools is the result of Notre Dame’s renovation of its stadium in 2017, which added a visitor tunnel for opposing teams and marching teams. Before that, the Irish fighters and their opponents had only entered through one tunnel, creating a logistical nightmare.
The world’s largest drum is too tall to cross the smaller visitor’s tunnel.
“We were told that visiting bands and orchestras should use a much smaller separate tunnel,” Yoder, a spokesperson for the university’s bands and orchestras, said. “Our cylinder is about 10 feet high on its carriage and 565 pounds, so it’s nowhere near being installed in that other tunnel.”
The Notre Dame official said the Irish gave more than 400 tickets to the Purdue marching band, more than double what it gave the Toledo band last week. The Boilermakers last played in South Bend in 2012.
The world’s largest drum, which was first built in 1921, is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The last time the band was without it was in 1979, when it disappeared from storage the night before Purdue played Northwestern. He was later found behind an air conditioner in an area accessible only by stairs, leading to speculation that it had been stolen and moved.
According to Purdue, in the days of train travel, band manager Paul Spotts Emerick, who made the drum, worked with the New York Central Railroad to find train cars that could house it. It usually now travels in the back of a pickup truck.
ESPN’s Dave Wilson contributed to this report.
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