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War Memorial exploring expansion options

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published February 7, 2012 at 5:49 p.m. Updated February 7, 2012 at 6:59 p.m.

111911-arkansas-democrat-gazettestephen-b-thornton-arkansass-razorbacks-runs-out-onto-the-field-at-the-start-of-their-game-saturday-against-mississippi-state-at-war-memorial-stadium

11/19/11 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/STEPHEN B. THORNTON Arkansass Razorbacks runs out onto the field at the start of their game Saturday against Mississippi State at War Memorial Stadium.

— Charles Staggs is asked "every day" about the future of Arkansas football games in Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium.

The stadium's manager said Tuesday he and the War Memorial Stadium commission are exploring the possibility of expansion in an attempt to ensure the Razorbacks keep playing two games there every season.

"We are looking at something to see if we can entice them to stay here," Staggs said.

Staggs said the commission talked about adding high-priced club seating at the 63-year-old stadium in November, and he expects architects to present drawings at its next meeting later this month. He said they will likely feature an expanded press box that could take up the entire west side of the stadium.

Staggs said he is concerned Arkansas might play fewer games in Little Rock after the school's contract with the stadium runs out after the 2016 season.

"Yes, I really am," Staggs said. "I don't know how the commission feels, but I'm concerned about it."

He said the expansion talk could be viewed as the commission's pre-emptive way to try and keep two games — which he called the "lifeblood of the stadium."

"We couldn't survive without those two games that we have here," Staggs said.

Arkansas announced plans for a future expansion of the on-campus, 72,000-seat Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville in October. Those plans were part of an overall estimated $300 million athletic growth master plan, and athletic director Jeff Long said the timetable was dependent on demand and money.

The Razorback Stadium expansion would be the first since a 19,000-seat expansion in 2001 that enclosed the south end zone and added a second deck to the east side.

Long said the estimated $78 million to $95 million expansion would enclose the north end zone and feature at least 5,000 new seats, including field-level suites and indoor and outdoor club areas.

Long wasn't nearly as definitive at October's announcement when asked about the impact of a possible Razorback Stadium expansion on future games in Little Rock. War Memorial Stadium has a capacity of 53,955.

"That decision will be made sometime in the future," Long said.

Arkansas pays the War Memorial commission $75,000 per game, and the stadium also collects concessions and parking fees from the neighboring War Memorial Golf Course. Staggs said the loss of any Razorbacks games would be a "big hole in the budget."

The stadium's 2000 contract with the stadium originally ran through the 2014 season and called for three football games to be played in War Memorial in four of the 15 seasons. However, the contract was amended in 2008 — extending the duration through 2016 while keeping the number of annual games at two.

Whether a possible future expansion of Razorback Stadium could impact the games in Little Rock has been widely discussed throughout Arkansas, a discussion Staggs is well aware of and concerned about.

"We're just sitting and waiting to see what they're going to do with us," Staggs said. "We are going to see what we can do to entice them to stay with us.

"... We're doing everything we can."

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Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 total comments

marilyngv says... February 8, 2012 at 12:45 a.m.

END THIS ALREADY!!!! if you cant travel to fayetteville to watch a game- then you are really not a fan. Make it special... if anything- just ONE non conf game in LR... the school is in the NW. UALR is in LR... goodness. you cant have it all arkansas- so get with the program- please see alabama for a good example.

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tuskerfan says... February 8, 2012 at 5:13 a.m.

Having games in the State Capitol located in the center of the state is important to many fans and the program. I'm 55 years old and a lifelong fan who can't always travel to Fayetteville to watch a game, but never miss the games in Little Rock. It is narrow minded and selfish to exclude people who have supported the Hogs in Little Rock on a whim. I will agree that War Memorial either has to be upgraded or a new venue considered.

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TUBBYJACK says... February 8, 2012 at 3:11 p.m.

Am with Tuskerfan on this , have been Arkansas Razorback all of my 54 years, and it's a ARKANSAS not fayetteville school, Have been to both and will still, but War M. is part of a large and long time part of Arkansas Razorback history.And to say you got to travel up there to be a fan, marilyngv, full of crap

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HawgFan says... February 8, 2012 at 3:43 p.m.

I'm with marilyn on this one. Move all the dumb games to the campus where the school is actually located!! Yes, it is the University of ARKANSAS, but the campus is located in Fayetteville, not Little Rock. End the games at War Memorial, expansion or not.

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RBBrittain says... February 8, 2012 at 4:52 p.m.

Marilyn, what about the Hog fans in Eudora & El Dorado? If you expect them to drive more than DOUBLE the distance to Hog games, some of them might just switch to one of the northern Louisiana schools--especially since it seems half the games we get already in LR are against Louisiana-Monroe. (Another reason why we need a series with ASU--though I'd rather wait till they run Gus Malzahn out of Jonesboro with the same infamy as his running Houston Nutt out of Fayetteville.)

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