FAYETTEVILLE -- While the Great Stadium Debate likely still divides some Razorbacks football fans, new Razorbacks Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek's approach unifies most.
At least on one point.
Since the 2001 major expansion of the University of Arkansas' Razorback Stadium into the 72,000-capacity, luxury-skyboxes-aplenty Reynolds Razorback Stadium on its Fayetteville campus, a debate raged regarding whether the Razorbacks also continue playing games at 54,000-seat War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock as they do tonight against Ole Miss.
Officially hired in December just before Chad Morris was officially hired as the Razorbacks new football coach replacing Bret Bielema, Yurachek during an April interview explained what officially would become his War Memorial rationale.
"For an athletic director running a major entity it's a very easy decision if it's based strictly on dollars and cents and strictly on business," Yurachek said. "But what I've come to find is in my first 100-plus days here a decision to play or not to play in Little Rock is not a financial decision because it means a lot to people across the state."
Wow! After 10 Long years with a capital L of last November ousted Athletic Director Jeff Long all but spelling Razorbacks as Razorback$$$$, an Arkansas athletic director put traditional sense over dollars and cents.
That deserves applause all-around regardless the varying views of continuing the Hogs playing at War Memorial.
Sure it takes money to operate an athletic program, but foremost for Arkansas it takes relationships, the late Frank Broyles asserted before Long's tone deaf ears.
The Razorbacks depend on relating to statewide passion because the statewide unifying passion they generate marks their mission above all.
Broyles, with 50 UA years as athletic director and/or football coach, knew explicitly the Razorbacks reciprocity to all of Arkansas. He also knew the vastly improved highway to growing Northwest Arkansas inevitably shifted emphasis to the Fayetteville games.
Certainly the recent $160 million North End Zone luxury expansion rivaling the Taj Mahal emphasizes the obvious playing more in Fayetteville and less in Little Rock.
Yet Little Rock remains the capital. Its central location remains vital, identifying the Razorbacks as truly Arkansas' team as beloved in Lake Village, Texarkana or El Dorado as in Fayetteville.
Rather than slow-death Little Rock games as Long did in 2016 and 2017 scheduling the likes of Alcorn State and Florida A&M, the latter on a Thursday night, Yurachek renewed the War Memorial contract. He contracted Thanksgiving weekend SEC games with Missouri in 2019 and 2021 and the annual Red-White intrasquad spring game for 2020 and 2022.
The Red-White game rather than an annual actual game might sound paltry, but among Arkansas fans frankly it resonates more interest than Alcorn State or Florida A&M.
Financially, the Razorbacks earn less playing in Little Rock tonight than in Fayetteville.
But if they can afford $11.9 million buying out Bret Bielema, they can afford Little Rock one SEC night on the town.
Sports on 10/13/2018
Print Headline: Continuing War Memorial tradition right decision for Hogs