SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Purdue’s famous giant bass drum has drummed up quite a controversy before Saturday’s road game at Notre Dame Stadium.
After being told that the World’s Largest Drum would not be allowed to enter the playing field through Notre Dame Stadium’s home entrance, Purdue’s All-American Band will play its halftime performance without the drum for the first time since 1979. Purdue spokesman Aaron Yoder said Friday that the band still planned to bring the massive drum and keep it outside the stadium “for fans to enjoy before the game.”
But a Notre Dame official told ESPN on Friday that the university had not been contacted by Purdue requesting permission to bring the drum to campus and was of the belief that it wouldn’t be there.
The disagreement between the instate schools is a result of Notre Dame’s renovation of its stadium in 2017, which added a visitor’s tunnel for opposing teams and marching bands. Before then, the Fighting Irish and their opponents entered through just one tunnel, which created a logistical nightmare.
The World’s Largest Drum is too tall to get through the smaller visitor’s tunnel.
“We have been told that visiting teams and bands have to use a separate tunnel that is much smaller,” said Yoder, a spokesman for the university’s bands and orchestras. “Our Drum is about 10 feet tall on its carriage and 565 pounds so it doesn’t even come close to fitting in this other tunnel.”
The Notre Dame official said the Irish have supplied more than 400 tickets for Purdue’s marching band, which is more than double what it provided for Toledo’s 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 went missing from storage the night before Purdue played Northwestern. It was later found behind an air conditioner in an area accessible only by ladder, which led to speculation that it had been stolen and moved.
According to Purdue, in the days of train travel, band director Paul Spotts Emrick, who had the drum built, worked with the New York Central Railway to find train cars that could house it. It now usually travels in the back of a pickup truck.
ESPN’s Dave Wilson contributed to this report.