I'm tired. I'm TIRED of the stadium debate.
Tuesday's news of a new agreement between the University of Arkansas and War Memorial Stadium didn't surprise me. There has been little to no love from Fayetteville for playing in the capital city since Houston Nutt left. This will make cutting ties with Little Rock five years from now much easier.
The timing for this announcement - which may seem like a five-year death sentence for some at the stadium - couldn't have been better for Jeff Long. War Memorial was not at it's best last Saturday. An early kickoff, lousy weather and two bad teams sparring for four quarters. I wasn't surprised that only 45,000 fans showed up for the game. That clunker wouldn't have attracted many more fans in Fayetteville. Can you imagine making the announcement three days after the "Miracle on Markham?" They would have run Jeff Long out of town.
The Audition is Over
The leadership at the U of A has had folks at War Memorial on edge for the past several seasons - fill that stadium or else. There were never any direct threats, but you could sense the desperation by those connected with War Memorial. It was always a race to game day, especially for the early season non-conference game.
Then the questions. How many empty seats? What did the coaches say about the atmosphere? Did Coach Bielema really call it a road game? It got ugly. Truth be told, I don't think that War Memorial was ever considered a real player in the plan for long term success.
This is a big loss for Little Rock. There's always a special energy in the capital city when the Hogs come to town. It's lost income for the city. What about the fans who can't afford the rising expense of game day in Fayetteville? How about the tailgaters? Eliminating one game a season means one less golf course bash. You are canceling one of Little Rock's biggest and most anticipated parties. And what happens to War Memorial? Can the old stadium survive with just one Hog game and then most likely no Hog games five years from now? I don't know.
It's a stadium that has featured so many great Hog moments. That magical night when Quinn Grovey led the Hogs past Andre Ware and his flying Cougars; Carlos Hall blocks a last second field goal and the Hogs upset Lou Holtz and his highly ranked Gamecocks; the "Miracle on Markham;" Houston Nutt's incredible run in his hometown. So many fun memories. For several years, it was "Nuttin' but fun" at War Memorial.
Former players will tell you that playing games in both Fayetteville and Little Rock made the Razorback program unique. Jeff Long isn't interested in that kind of unique. He would love to create the next Alabama or LSU.
The big question now is will the Hogs be able to consistently fill Reynolds Razorback stadium? History tells us that Hog fans from all four corners of the state will support a winning Hog program in a big way. The U of A has gone all-in with Bret Bielema with the expectation that he will produce a top notch SEC program. All we know is 11 games into season one, the highest paid staff in Razorback history still has to dig out of a deep hole.
Like it or not, college football is now a huge business. Millions of dollars are invested in coaches and facilities and it's becoming less and less about the fan. Decisions will be made on what is best for the program, and Jeff Long feels that moving one game for now - and maybe all games later - to Fayetteville is best for the program.
I don't like to see the games go, but I think it's time to give up the fight. I don't know about you, but I'm real tired of the stadium debate.
Home News Weather Sports Video About Us Newslinks Community Follow Us Fun and Games Blogs KATV/FCC Public File
Employment Contact KATV Credit Application and Advertising Terms and Conditions KATV Programming EEO Report