Tradition runs deep in the South when it comes to football. When a tradition is taken away, many people don’t take to it lightly, especially in the SEC.
The Arkansas Razorbacks have been playing at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock since 1948 but after 2018, that could all be taken away.
Instead of playing the annual two games in Little Rock this season (one being an SEC opponent), Arkansas will only be playing one against the Georgia Bulldogs on October 18, 2014 and probably only one until 2018.
The contract with War Memorial went through the 2014 season but was amended in 2008 and extended through 2016 and then again renegotiated and extended through 2018. Arkansas pays War Memorial Stadium $400,000 and will pay an additional $75,000 per game for the next three years. Arkansas will not have to pay the $75,000 ‘rental’ fee during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
I think Arkansas fans should not be happy with decision at all and fans should take a stand.
I understand the world is about making money and saving revenue. I know Athletic Director Jeff Long is just trying to make smart decisions for the University and do what is right to save money.
I also get that War Memorial only holds 54,000 versus the 72,000 that Razorback Stadium holds. When it comes down to everything though, fans make a college atmosphere and taking away something fans love is wrong. Below are my reasons/what ifs on why the two games should remain in Little Rock.
Some fans can only afford to make it to Little Rock games because of location or other issues. Fans plan all year round on Little Rock games, whether it is planning a tailgate on War Memorial Golf Course or getting the entire family/friends together that may not be able to make it all the way up to Fayetteville.
Little Rock, in my opinion brings all different types of Arkansas Fans together that Fayetteville can't bring. Little Rock tailgates on the War Memorial Golf Course are extremely more entertaining than Fayetteville tailgates. The atmosphere is so much more fun and football players have always loved coming down to Little Rock.
If Jeff Long and the University completely take away Little Rock games I think Arkansas would lose some fan base and also lose season ticket holders.
Arkansas is known for being “One Nation Under Hog.” There isn’t an in-state rival they play so everyone in Arkansas mainly supports the Razorbacks. If the Little Rock games are taken away, I truly believe the fans that are from places like South Arkansas and the Delta will start becoming Ole Miss or even LSU fans just because of location. Fans farther away in the state love the fact they can see the Razorbacks play in Little Rock because they can get there.
I already know a few people this season that aren't renewing their season tickets solely based on the fact that they can’t go to two Little Rock games….just saying.
I understand that people in Northwest Arkansas are totally for this plan of keeping all home games in Fayetteville but take the population as whole rather than just the population of Northwest Arkansas. According to nwacouncil.org the population of the Northwest Arkansas region is 482,200. The population of Arkansas according to suburbanstats.org is 2,915,918.
Many small businesses and events in Little Rock depend on the Little Rock games for income/revenue. For example, my family owns a small restaurant in Little Rock that mainly depends on the catering business.
One of the biggest sources of revenue comes from hosting Little Rock tailgate parties at War Memorial Stadium twice a year. That revenue has always been a guarantee for years and is now being cut in half because of one game this year. After 2018 that revenue may not be there at all.
My family isn’t the only business that benefits from the tailgate parties, many other businesses from around town do too.
I know Jeff Long wants to save money but come on, its two games that a fanbase love. I promise it won't have an effect on the big time boosters in Northwest Arkansas because they are already supporting the University as is.
Now it is my time to pick a bone at the “very handsome” and “intelligent” head coach Bret Bielema.
In 2013 Bielema said, “I know that it’s a home game on our schedule, but we as coaches and players have to treat it as a road game. One of the things that I first discovered when I came here – and I knew we played in Little Rock – these two games in reality become two of the longest trips of the entire season because it is a three- to three-and-a-half whatever bus ride there.”
Ummmmm Bielema….. wrong answer. I get you have to ride in a boring bus all the way down to Little Rock (heaven forbid), but it is a tradition that has been going on for decades. If the atmosphere doesn’t look like a home game when arriving to War Memorial Stadium then a fish can live outside of water.
I could almost guarantee that almost that entire football team would say they love coming to War Memorial Stadium. I also know that Bielema said riding on a bus on the way back from a Little Rock isn’t good for recovering after playing a game. I agree, but I'm sure that situation could be handled very easily with the big names that give money to the Athletic program.
I also know that attendance at the Little Rock games fell sharply this season, as the Razorbacks have put a poor product on the field since an 11-2 finish in 2011 but that is what happens when a team just sucks. After going 3-8 this past season I would be pissed as a fan and player too. It’s not Bielema’s fault for having an under-par football team because of the past, but I also feel he is not the man for the job….that’s just me though.
Also, speaking of Bret Bielema…… he needs all the in-state recruits he can get! Some of those big boys can only get to Little Rock to watch instead of Fayetteville if they live far away. Not only would they get to see an awesome Razorback atmosphere but they would get to see the Razorbacks probably win because of the track record Arkansas has when playing in Little Rock.
Bielema and his recruiting team came 11th this year in the SEC. Not up to par man……I really do think that Little Rock games help recruiting and I would put money on big time names out of Arkansas going to other schools over Arkansas if the games were taken away.
I always will be an Ole Miss fan and I get hated on for writing negativity towards Arkansas living in the state and all but I’m sorry I would want a coach that stands his ground and supports a tradition that fans have long-time loved. Anyone can go against me but read sports writer Clay Travis’s article on Bret Bielema, he makes really valid points on Bielema.
Anyways, back to subject. Jeff Long and everyone involved should keep the games in Little Rock. I know money means everything in a business mans eyes but remember, fans make everything whole in a college. Football players not only come to a University where they can play and win, they come also where they feel wanted by a fan base that acquires great traditions which Arkansas has with the Little Rock games.
I’m also not saying this is going to have an effect immediately but over time I truly believe the fan base would be a lot different in 10-15 years in the state of Arkansas if Little Rock games were taken away indefinitely.