While I understand the reasons that the University of Arkansas wants to move all the football games to Fayetteville, it is sad in many ways. There are lots of tradition and memories in Little Rock, but things do change.
Although I’ll note that the Hogs do have a higher all-time winning percentage in Little Rock than in Fayetteville.
The 1980 Arkansas football media guide included a section titled "Travel Plans" that covered half a page. Listed first was the following: "All Little Rock Games: Leave Fayetteville via charter bus Friday at 2 p.m. Arrive at Conway, 4:30 p.m., and quarter at the Ramada Inn (501-329-8392). Bus to Little Rock prior to the game. Return to Fayetteville via charter bus immediately after the game."
Growing up in Conway, I remember the Hogs staying here on game weekends. It was pretty cool. They would usually eat the team meal at Bonanza in the Faulkner Plaza Shopping Center then go watch a movie at the UA Cinema 1 & 2, a two-screen theater located where Hobby Lobby is today. Earlier, they would stay at the Ramada and eat at the old Bowen’s buffet restaurant.
In 1980, there were actually four Little Rock games as opposed to three in Fayetteville. The four road trips were all SWC games in Texas.
That media guide also lists that Razorback Stadium held only 41,221 as opposed to War Memorial holding 53,555. Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium now officially holds 72,000. And therein lies the heart of the problem. More seats equals more ticket sales equals more money.
The contract to play in War Memorial ends after 2018. Most doubt it will be renewed, thus shifting all the games to Fayetteville.
The 2016 opponent this weekend is Alcorn State from the FCS, or division I-AA. The 2017 opponent has already been announced as Florida A&M, another FCS cupcake. War Memorial likely will not be filled for the Alcorn State game, but in fairness to Little Rock, Razorback Stadium would not be filled either for this opponent.
But the 2017 schedule actually reveals what might be a workable solution going forward to keep both stadiums in play. Florida A&M is the season opener in week one. Week two has the Hogs in Fayetteville hosting TCU. That model gives the Hogs the unique opportunity of having not one, but two season home openers.
Set up the schedule to do that each year. The opponent won’t really matter much in the first game of the season as football starved fans turn out en masse in Little Rock to kick things off. Then do it all again in week two with a second home opener, this time in Fayetteville.
I guess to put it another way, just play the Little Rock game first and get it out of the way.
(Guest columnist David Grimes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)