War Memorial Stadium was built as a multi-use athletic facility in 1948 at a cost of $1.2 million. This stadium is interesting because it is a huge stadium without a permanent tenant, but can still get close to filling it.
When the stadium was first built it had a capacity of 31,075 and was used by the University of Arkansas as a secondary home. Over the years the stadium capacity has grown with each facility improvement and renovation. As of 2015 the stadium can hold 54,120 for football games, which is almost 20,000 fewer than the 72,000 which Arkansas can fit into their on campus stadium in Fayetteville.
The current contract between Arkansas and War Memorial Stadium sees the Razorbacks playing one game per year in the stadium until 2018. A minimum of two of these games must be SEC contests. It is a tricky situation as the U of A pays $400,000 per year to the stadium commission plus a $75,000 game day rental fee. All in all it is estimated that the Razorbacks actually lose somewhere between $900,000 and $1 million by playing in the stadium which is about a three hour drive from campus.
The players, however, love playing Little Rock as the stadium has a more intimate feel than the one they play most of their home games in. The stands are highly banked giving a feel that the crowd is on top of the players throughout the game. When you add in the serious tailgating scene in Central Arkansas then you get a loud, raucous crowd cheering the Razorbacks on when games are moved to War Memorial Stadium.
Though the Razorbacks’ games are the biggest draw to the stadium, it does not remain empty for the rest of the year. The Delta Classic, a matchup between two historically black colleges aimed at promoting literacy in the region, was held between 2006 and 2012. The game featured top level FCS schools including Grambling, Arkansas Pine Bluff and Langston. War Memorial Stadium was also home to the short lived, as in one year, Aluminum Bowl in 1956.
There are currently two teams playing at War Memorial Stadium. The Arkansas Baptist College Buffaloes of the NJCAA moved to the stadium in 2007, while the Catholic High School Rockets also call War Memorial Stadium home. The stadium has undergone many facelifts over the years and now features high quality field turf and a new scoreboard and video screen were added in 2005.
The stadium features the Arkansas Sports Media Legends Wall of Honor in the press box which was renovated in 2010. This $7.3 million upgrade made the area more comfortable and technologically advanced for the media, while adding this honor area which recognizes Arkansas sports journalists who have distinguished themselves in their careers.
image courtesy of wmstadium.com