Compromise great for all of Arkansas

Posted: May 18, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

From left, University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz, UA Athletics Director Hunter Yurachek and Arkansas Parks and Tourism Executive Director Kane Webb sit during a press conference Thursday, May 17, 2018, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

With a new logo in the background, and just feet away from a memorial saluting every Arkansan who has won the Medal of Honor dating back to the Indian and Civil wars through the Vietnam War, a compromise was announced.

A good compromise, and one that was aided and abetted by War Memorial Stadium Commission Chairman Kevin Crass.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department announced a six-year agreement for the Razorbacks to play football at War Memorial every other year against the University of Missouri.

On the surface, it appears central Arkansas -- which once hosted as many as four games a year -- lost a game every other year, but they gained an SEC game every other year instead of once every four years.

Fayetteville, the first home of the Hogs, will acquire some financial help with the game it gained every other year.

It was obvious by the enthusiasm of UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz and Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek that they understand the definition of the University of Arkansas is not UA Northwest.

The compromise likely would not have been reached if there hadn't been a change in the athletic director's office.

UA trustees, several of whom attended Thursday's news conference, said they felt Jeff Long, who they fired in November, wanted to stop playing in Little Rock.

Long met with trustees and Gov. Asa Hutchinson last year to present a slide show about games in central Arkansas and the need for up to $10 million in renovations. The governor asked him to stop the presentation and change the subject.

Yurachek said if the decision was purely dollars and cents, it would have been easy to sever ties with War Memorial. But he talked about the rich history and tradition of the UA that stretched to all borders. Long seemed to make all decisions based on money.

Yurachek and Steinmetz have made numerous trips around the state meeting with alumni, and Steinmetz is wrapping up his third annual bus tour of the state.

On Thursday, both reiterated the strong feelings many in eastern and southern Arkansas have about keeping an athletic presence close enough for them to attend games.

War Memorial will make some improvements, which most likely will be mandated by the SEC at its spring meeting, and ticket sales for the game with Missouri must be at least 47,000.

Kane Webb, director of Parks and Tourism, said some improvements were necessary, and it will start with a new field. He said there is money in the budget for upkeep at all the state parks, and he didn't see updating War Memorial as a big hurdle.

As for the 47,000, that's a fair request by the UA. There has to be a benchmark.

This is where Chad Morris gets involved. The Razorbacks have not been very good for six years, and ticket sales have reflected that at both homes for the Hogs.

Morris is working 24-7 to find better players so he can have better teams.

This is also where the fans count. Fans are not supposed to support a stadium, but a team, and the Razorbacks deserve support regardless of the site.

Like most people, my first Razorback game was at War Memorial Stadium where I sneaked through a place in the fence when the usher wasn't looking. So there is a sentimental attachment, but it is easy to understand the financial side of the schedule, too.

It was a good compromise for the University of Arkansas and its fans who live all over this great state.

Sports on 05/18/2018