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Andy Hodges

Playing games in a relic of a stadium doesn’t make sense these days

While fans tend to get all nostalgic about playing games at War Memorial Stadium, memories may be all that remains. Playing games in Little Rock doesn’t make sense.

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Usually we have the games in Little Rock debate during the summer when everybody is trying to find something to talk and write about between baseball ending and the SEC Media Daze for football.

Now it’s come up in February.

With the announcement last week the spring game scheduled to be played there will be held at Razorback Stadium, nobody should really be surprised. When the contract was done it was pretty plain to see all of the games were contingent upon approval by the league.

It’s really the only move that makes sense politically for both the state of Arkansas and the university. Everybody can blame the SEC, who really doesn’t care.

The Razorbacks really should have quit playing games there about 40 years ago. That was when I first suggested it after standing under the stands in the spring of 1978 and considered swimming back to the elevator up to the press box.

It’s the same basic seating capacity of 40,000 until they lowered the field and narrowed the spacing allotted for seats to get to around 53,000, then lowered it again to get up to 54,000.

War Memorial Stadium served a purpose at a certain time but not in the last 20 years. It’s actually a negative for the Hogs to play there the last 10 years or so, especially since they lose a recruiting weekend because of it.

For a school that apparently spent nearly $2 million recruiting players that couldn’t be coached to win more than four games over the last two seasons, well, you can’t afford to give up anything trying to get the wheels back on the wagon and at least wobbling down the road.

As a native of Southeast Arkansas, I grew up going to games in Little Rock. There are a lot of fond memories of time spent there.

It’s nostalgic for some folks. That’s defined as “a sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.”

The key there is the past. A new interstate that makes driving from Central Arkansas to Fayetteville a breeze now eliminated a big part of that and changing NCAA rules make it essentially a true road game … for the Hogs.

While it may be functional for some high school games, it is not a venue suitable in any way, shape, form or fashion for big time football. Maybe 40 years ago it fit in, but not in this day and age.

Don’t buy the tired old line of losing donors. That was tried reducing the number of games from four to three, then two. The same donors that made the threat kept writing checks. Ego won’t let them stop.

With every game on television live these days, most of college football is struggling with attendance. If Hunter Yurachek wants to put folks in the seat at Razorback Stadium he might want to consider putting in modern seating instead of aluminum bleachers and modernizing some things.

You want fans in a day and age when they can watch the game on their phone from a deer stand or bass boat, well, you better make it comfortable and convenient.

They know all this, by the way. Show them the money and they’d probably be all in for it.

It has been suggested the Hogs play Arkansas State at War Memorial to kick off each season, creating a rival (which is something Arkansas really doesn’t have, by the way).

Sorry, but no. The Razorbacks should not play ASU anywhere except Fayetteville. While some folks in Jonesboro are ready to play the Hogs anywhere, any time, that probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

It would be fine, but the Red Wolves should come to Razorback Stadium. Every year.

While fans can continue to have nostalgic feelings about War Memorial, college football is a business, especially in the SEC where it is big business.

And playing games in a relic of a stadium so folks can feel good about the past probably isn’t the best business decision.

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