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JOHN BRUMMETT: Parsing the game plan

By John Brummett

This article was published July 16, 2017 at 1:47 a.m.

Little Rock is wondering if maybe it could solve three problems with one enhanced risk of head injury for young adult males.

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Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 total comments

RBear says... July 16, 2017 at 8:11 a.m.

John, love your columns but I think you're missing some on this one. Yes, this is a risky venture but one that's a less risky than a semi-pro sports team. Will a UALR-ASU game fill War Memorial? Well, the basketball games with the same match-up doesn't do too badly. Will having football attract more students? Maybe, but that's because it helps create more of a true college experience. I wouldn't bank the program on it, but I can attest it does have merit having been through a similar situation in San Antonio. You seem to have left that off your list.
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UTSA was in a similar situation as UALR. A primarily commuter school, it lacked a football program and lived in the shadow of both UT and Texas A&M. San Antonio is a huge Aggie city, a lot being attributed to San Antonio being Military City USA. UT is as close as driving from Little Rock to Arkadelphia. It's an easy day trip (I've done it many, many times). The basketball team was lackluster. But Lynne Hickey, the AD recruited from A&M had a vision for football at UTSA.
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Signs started popping up around San Antonio, UTSA Football - Still Undefeated. People were locking onto the idea. It took several years and some corporate commitment, but they finally launched the program. It comes in Conference USA. Season ticket sales started with several of us jumping in on the charter seats. Your location locked in provided you renew every year. I was one of them.
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The venue? The mostly vacant Alamodome, a structure built for the city to host the '93 Olympic Festival and Spurs. They moved out and it became a great place for monster truck shows and other things. Great mega-convention location, but vacant a lot of the time. Fast forward to first game. Would people show? Yes, and in droves. It set the NCAA record for highest attendance at a startup with over 56,000. First season broke average attendance for a startup at 35,000.
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The program averages 23,800 now, but a lot of that is due to the configuration of the Alamodome with its upper deck. Still, 23,800 is pretty darn good. Tailgaiting is awesome before the game. The atmosphere on campus is much, much different now even with the Alamodome miles away from campus. Families who can't afford tickets to UT or Aggie football attend the game and have a blast.
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Is it bad? Who knows? But the prospect of a football program offering options in the Little Rock area is worth exploring, especially when Fayetteville seems to be snubbing its nose at the largest metro area in the state.

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Delta2 says... July 16, 2017 at 2:58 p.m.

For a good part of this, I agree with the columnist, but his obvious disdain for American football is jading his viewpoint on this one.

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davidscherreysbcglobalnet says... July 17, 2017 at 12:07 p.m.

The media is giddy. An ABC-Wall Street Journal poll came out showing Trump with the “lowest” approval rating after six months in office. Only Trump, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton have been under 50% approval after six months. Only problem is, this poll is skewed, just like the election polls, with a +12 Democrat over-sample. That’s where you get your “lower” approval numbers.

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Jfish says... July 17, 2017 at 12:45 p.m.

John hit the nail on the head with this one. An urban university filled with non-traditional students does not need a football program to help it consistently finish in the red. Of the football fans in central Arkansas, I would guess that over 95% are razorback fans to some degree and have no interest in a mediocre mid-major. Remember a few years ago when UCA has to remind its fans to wear more purple than red, similar at ASU, just to a lesser degree.

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Delta2 says... July 17, 2017 at 4:18 p.m.

Jfish, those 95% of football fans in Central Arkansas that are Razorback fans apparently have a great deal of interest in a mediocre mid-major.

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deitrablackwell says... July 17, 2017 at 8:44 p.m.

John, I'm with you on this one. I love a good football game, but would need a lot more persuading to be in favor of a UA Little Rock football team.

1. The main enthusiasm for this seems to come from those city and state people who find themselves with a stadium and no big football games to use it for. Unloading it on UA Little Rock would be an easy answer, but I have no illusions that the conversation started with "What can we do to improve UA Little Rock?"

2. The part-time non-traditional student is, and probably should be, the college's bread and butter. At the same time, there has been a push for many years to also create a more traditional campus and traditional college experience. Building the dormitories was part of this push. And things seemed to be going well until the college made living in a dorm a requirement for first year students. The problem was that if a high student could afford room and board along with tuition, they wanted to go to college farther from home! Enrollment tanked, but has been slowly increasing again. According to my scientific parking lot survey, it was impossible to get a parking space for the first month of each semester, until the dorm requirement went into effect. Since then I have had no trouble finding a spot, but can tell that there are increasing numbers of cars at the beginning of each semester, which the leadership had hoped would happen. The students who could afford tuition, possibly with an Arkansas Challenge scholarship, but not the dorm expense, were the primary people affected by the dorm requirement. A number of faculty that I know and admire are especially skilled at working with these students who desperately see education as a path for a better life.

3. So many people, organizations and corporations have worked very hard to create excellent courses and opportunities for UA Little Rock. The Donaghey Program, with its full scholarships, stipends and study abroad is a great draw for gifted and hard-working local students. And it's excellent publicity for the school’s reputation. The new Windgate Art Building is a recognition of the Art and Design Department’s efforts to build a challenging and encouraging program for students that often have very little experience with formal art education. This is the type community investment I want to see for UA Little Rock. Investment that invests in a broad range of students who may make America even greater, not just athletes who have slim chances for a professional career.

4. A final thought, Hendrix recently restarted a football program. How many Pulaski County residents go to Conway for Hendrix games? It surely would be a good predictor of enthusiasm that Pulaski County residents would have for non-Razorback football games.

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