FAYETTEVILLE – At least through 2024, the University of Arkansas intends its Razorbacks to play a football game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
The UA’s previously existing contract with Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to play an annual game at War Memorial expires after the Razorbacks this 2018 season host Ole Miss in an Oct. 13 SEC game in Little Rock.
On Thursday at a news conference at War Memorial Stadium, the UA and the ADPT signed a contract starting in 2019 for the Razorbacks to host Missouri every other year in their annual Thanksgiving weekend SEC season finale game that has annually alternated at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville and Mizzou’s Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri.
Arkansas will host the 2019, 2021 and 2023 games against Missouri in Little Rock as this season’s Arkansas vs. Mizzou game, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 24 but likely to be moved to the Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving like all past Arkansas vs. Missouri SEC games, is in Columbia.
On the 2020, 2022 and 2024 seasons that Arkansas and Mizzou are scheduled for Columbia, the Razorbacks seek an off-campus waiver allowing them to play their annual Red-White intrasquad spring game in Little Rock which they did last April because of the ongoing renovation in the north end zone of Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Arkansas has played at least one intercollegiate game per season, and sometimes as many as four games at War Memorial since it opened in 1948.
Both UA Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz and Athletic Director Hunter Yuracheck cited the Razorbacks’ tradition at War Memorial and the statewide support and connections provided to the UA by playing games there in addition to on campus in Fayetteville.
“A big part of our mission as a university is to make lives better for Arkansans,” Steinmetz said Thursday. “That means a lot of things including recruiting students from every part of our state, providing transformational opportunities, solving problems through research and discovery, and contributing service through collaboration. But it also means engaging the entire state.
“The Arkansas Razorbacks are a tremendous source of pride for the University of Arkansas and the state, and will always be a big part of that engagement. We’re excited to continue the tradition of playing at War Memorial Stadium. I’d like to thank Hunter Yurachek for his due diligence throughout the process while also including what is sometimes overlooked in a decision like this – the decades of fond memories and strong emotions so many Razorback fans share related to the Razorbacks playing in Little Rock.”
Hired only in December to replace fired former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, Yurachek has often said if purely based on finance, logic dictates that the Razorbacks play all their games at expanded to beyond 70,000 seats Reynolds Razorback Stadium but that a variety of reasons from emotions and especially keeping the Razorbacks bonded to the entire state weigh in maintaining their War Memorial presence.
“For 70 years, University of Arkansas football games at War Memorial Stadium have been a part of our program’s rich history and our state’s heritage,” Yurachek said. “We are pleased that through our partnership with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, we will be able to continue this Razorback tradition while also ensuring our program is in position to compete successfully in the SEC and nationally. Throughout this process, I sought and listened to many passionate Razorbacks from every corner of our state and beyond. While those conversations provided varying perspectives, they collectively reaffirmed my belief that this state is unified in our desire to see the Razorback program succeed.”
Yurachek and Steinmetz thanked Arkansas Parks and Tourism Director Kane Webb and War Memorial Stadium Commission Chairman Kevin Crass who thanked him in turn.
“I think this agreement speaks very highly of the University of Arkansas” Webb said. “In an era in which money seems to be the driving force behind every major decision in big-time college athletics – and it doesn’t get any bigger time than SEC football – this wasn’t a money decision. It required an appreciation and understanding of tradition and culture and a willingness to be uniquely Arkansas.”
“This announcement reflects the continuation of a successful partnership between the U of A and War Memorial that has lasted 70 years,” Crass said. “I appreciate the efforts of all who made this happen, especially Governor (Asa) Hutchinson, Chancellor Joe Steinmetz and Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek.”