LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – College Football is almost back, and Saturday can’t come soon enough for Razorback fans.
Since 1948, War Memorial Stadium has been the home away from home for the Arkansas Razorbacks Football Team. Fans like Brad Clark, who now lives down the street from the stadium, remember when the team used to play most of their games inside it.
“There’s not a bad seat in War Memorial Stadium,” Clark said. “It’s been special to me.”
Starting at 31,000 seats, War Memorial Stadium’s occupancy grew to over 50,000 in 1957. It was larger than Fayetteville’s stadium until the 2001 season.
Once the I-49 extension from Alma to Fayetteville was constructed, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport opened and over 75,000 people could attend a game in Fayetteville, fewer and fewer games were scheduled for the capital city.
According to the University of Arkansas, other two-site teams are going through the same thing. There are plenty of examples of colleges abandoning fields such as the University of Alabama who played over 100 years in Birmingham’s Legion Field. Tuscaloosa has hosted all football games since 2003.
UofA Senior Associate Athletics Director Kevin Trainor said Arkansas is unique in that regard.
“[Arkansas is] one of the last remaining arrangements of that, but I think it speaks to the uniqueness of our state and its history,” Trainor said.
When the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism began managing War Memorial Stadium in 2017, they had to balance bringing modern conveniences to the venue while preserving a historic site. Secretary Shea Lewis spoke on people’s connection to the stadium.
“A lot of people have emotional connections to this stadium,” Lewis said. “We have to take that into consideration when we think about changes that we make, updates, and just care for the building.”
The future is bright with the first matchup of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks and Arkansas State University Red Wolves in 2025. Both teams have been on the gridiron for over 100 years.
The kickoff of the Razorback season opener against Western Carolina is at noon Saturday. Brad Clark said he and his wife have tickets, and they look forward to seeing their front porch view change into Hog Heaven.
“Game day it will be literally wall to wall on the street just walking down that way, like a parade,” Clark said.