FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas will play its spring football game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Saturday, April 7, according to an email sent by athletic director Hunter Yurachek on Thursday.
Yurachek wrote the Southeastern Conference provided a waiver to hold the game off-campus because of ongoing construction to Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The scrimmage will begin at 1 p.m. and admission will be free. TV plans have yet to be announced.
It is unclear whether the April 7 scrimmage will be the final of the Razorbacks' 15 spring practices.
"One thing that has become abundantly clear to Coach (Chad) Morris and me is the importance of the Razorbacks throughout the state," Yurachek wrote. "...To better connect our new staff and program across the state this Spring, Coach Morris and I have decided that we will be taking the spring game to War Memorial Stadium on April 7."
The move comes at a time when the future of the Razorbacks' annual presence in Little Rock is unclear. Arkansas is in the final year of its contract with the stadium and is scheduled to play Ole Miss there on Oct. 13.
The Razorbacks' game against the Rebels concludes a five-game contract between the university and stadium that was agreed upon in 2013. Arkansas has played one game annually there since 2014.
An announced attendance of 36,055 was listed for Arkansas' season-opening game against Florida A&M last season, a game that was played on a Thursday.
Discussions are ongoing about keeping at least one Arkansas game in Little Rock. The Razorbacks have played annually at War Memorial Stadium since 1948.
According to emails and documents exchanged between university leaders and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism in November, the stadium needs between $4.85 million and $10 million in renovations to come in line with fan demands, TV requirements and potential changes to SEC rules.
“This is a great opportunity for War Memorial Stadium and the fans in Central Arkansas to support the Hogs by having a record crowd for the spring game," said Kevin Crass, chairman of the War Memorial Stadium Commission. "We are grateful to Hunter Yurachek and Coach Morris for bringing this exciting weekend to fans throughout the state.”
Arkansas once played spring games in Fayetteville and Little Rock, and some years in Hot Springs, but has not played its spring game off-campus since 1989 in Hot Springs. The last spring game in Little Rock was played in 1988.
In 1972, more than 31,000 people showed up for the Razorbacks' spring game in Little Rock, said Rick Schaeffer, Arkansas' sports information director from 1977-2000.
"This is a great opportunity for Central Arkansas to welcome back the Razorbacks by hosting the spring game at War Memorial Stadium,” said Kane Webb, director of Arkansas Parks and Tourism. “It brings back vivid memories for many of us who remember attending Red-White games at War Memorial and feeling a part of the statewide Razorback tradition."
The 2018 spring game would be Arkansas' first in two years. The Razorbacks' 2017 spring game was canceled because of torrential rains in Fayetteville, and the format was changed to a televised indoor scrimmage.
This year's spring game will be played the same day as an Arkansas home baseball game against Auburn. That game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.