A Purdue-themed basketball barn built for dreamers
Have you ever wanted to play basketball in Purdue’s Mackey Arena? Now you can play in a barn that is known as ‘Mini-Mackey.’
Todd Foster’s dream was to open a multifunctional basketball facility — not only for his family but also for his community.
At first look, the midsize Indiana barn tucked away in Martell Forest in West Lafayette doesn’t seem special. But as you step into the woods, you will notice the Mackey Arena sign lighting the way to a Boilermaker fan’s dream: a barn that serves not only as a full basketball court, volleyball court and batting cage but also as an Airbnb that overlooks the court’s bright wooden floors.
Foster Farms Sports Barn, aka “Mini-Mackey,” is run by Purdue University alumni Todd (BS physical education ’96) and Jessica (BS health promotion ’97) Foster. With interests in basketball and being outside in nature, they dreamed up the perfect place for Boilermaker fans to share fun memories together.
It was always my dream after college to one day have a full basketball court for my family to practice in. Soon our daughters showed interest in volleyball, and that’s when we decided, why not make this a multifunctional facility to host other sports?Todd Foster
“This has a been a dream for Todd since forever,” Jessica says. “When he was younger and playing basketball, he had the keys to the school to go and practice whenever. When we had kids, we knew we wanted to have our own court to teach them and have a place where we could host lessons on basketball and volleyball for others.”
“It was always my dream after college to one day have a full basketball court for my family to practice in,” says Todd. “Soon our daughters showed interest in volleyball, and that’s when we decided, why not make this a multifunctional facility to host other sports?”
Just nine miles from Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, the barn has an Airbnb area — a loft that overlooks the basketball court and gym. It’s a fully furnished apartment with one bedroom, living room, open kitchen, laundry room and full bathroom.
Todd, a former Purdue basketball player from ’92-’96 and current sports academic advisor for the Brees Academic Center, started the process to build this facility in 2010.
While constructing their barn, the Fosters knew they wanted to include Purdue influences into the build and decor. Reusing and recycling Purdue items was a common theme throughout the barn. Pulling from Purdue resources, Todd would find used pallets, old Purdue athletic signs, memorabilia and extra turf from when the indoor facility was being redone. He let departments know that if they were not using these materials, he would gladly take them to incorporate into his barn.
“We collected a lot of Purdue items to help build out this barn,” Todd says. “We have banners that are from Mackey, the scoreboard is from my old high school, and we have weight platforms from my work. We wanted to repurpose a lot of things that Purdue athletics didn’t want anymore.”
“I don’t think we would have been able to afford all this without recycling Purdue resources from where Todd works,” Jessica says.
The Mackey Arena sign, which is the old sign used outside Purdue’s basketball arena before its exterior renovations, was sitting outside the baseball field for an extended period of time. Many people told Todd that this is exactly what the barn needed.
“I went into the athletics department and asked about the Mackey sign they had sitting by the fields and if they were getting rid of it. They said they were going to auction it off online but that the lights on the sign didn’t work anymore. Once I won the auction, I got a team to help me fix the lighting and secure the Mackey sign with a concrete slab and lots of welding. Now it sits in the front of the barn and lights up through the night to complete that Mini-Mackey look,” Todd says.
Today, the Foster Farm Sports Barn is used for many events. It’s hosted volleyball teams, basketball lessons, birthday parties and game-day celebrations and has spots for RVs.
We enjoy meeting the people who come through here. Whether they are Purdue fans or just want to play some sports, this is a space of connection and family.Jessica Foster
“We enjoy meeting the people who come through here. We have hosted a volleyball team here and have created a space for the community at large to use and share in with us. Whether they are Purdue fans or just want to play some sports, this is a space of connection and family,” Jessica says.
The Fosters credit their time at Purdue for establishing connections, friends and lifelong lessons they still hold onto today. That’s why this family incorporated their Purdue memorabilia into the space.
“Todd and I actually met at Purdue. I was a dancer on the Purdue dance team, and that’s how I met Todd while he was a basketball player. Not only that, but we made friends that are like family and found a close-knit community that has stayed with us since graduating,” Jessica says.
“Playing basketball for Purdue was an honor. I found my best friends and brothers while I played,” Todd says. “Still today they are like my brothers, and Coach Keady is still like a father to me. Gene Keady was a great inspiration to me. He taught me not just basketball, but life lessons around working hard and being a good person. He showed me it’s not what Purdue can do for me but what I can do for the Purdue community. Every time he is in town, he stills comes to visit my family and take us out to dinner.”