David Grimes: A night of fun on a school night in Little Rock

I took my two boys and a friend to the Razorback season opener in Little Rockin August.

 

As has been said many times already, moving the game to Thursday made it tough to get there and enjoy the full effects of a college football game, given school and work and traffic.

It was a school night and we got home pretty late. But I’m glad we were among the few to stay till the end, as my crew and several other youngsters lined the exit ramps where the players departed. Lots of high-fives were handed out, as well as a few towels, headbands, gloves and other gear from the players. That’s good stuff to help cultivate a young fan base.

War Memorial hosted its first football game in 1948. A very large plaque fastened to the wall at one of the main entrances simply proclaims it “Memorial Stadium” and states “Dedicated to the men and women of Arkansas who gave their lives in the great wars. 1917-1918. 1941-1945.”

It then lists a host of dignitaries, starting with Gov. Ben Laney. Laney was a 1924 graduate of Arkansas State Normal School, the only alumnus of what is now UCA to be elected governor. Laney played baseball for the Bears while a student in the early 1920’s.

I heard on a sports radio talk show that week that Frank Broyles actually won more games in Little Rock than he won in Fayetteville. But that is not really as odd as it first sounds, for in many years back then the Hogs would play more games in the Rock than on the Hill.

According to the U of A football media guide, the Hogs have a better all-time winning percentage in Little Rock (.710) than in Fayetteville (.701).

This year marks the 70th season that the Hogs have played in War Memorial. Little Rock CPA and sports historian extraordinaire Jim Rasco, whom I wrote about a few weeks ago, has seen at least one game in War Memorial in each and every one of those 70 years. I’m sure he’ll make it 71 next year, but I don’t think he’ll get to 72.

The Razorbacks are scheduled to play one game there in 2018, then the contract expires. I doubt they will renew, for if they wanted to. they would have already done so.

There has been some talk that the U of A might even try to buy out that 2018 game somehow, so I grabbed a few extra programs that night just in case 2017 does turn out to be the last one.

I suspect the powers that be up in northwest Arkansas will announce sometime after the 2017 season is over that the 2018 game will be the last.

I do hope they allow central Arkansas to hold a proper going away party next year, and preferably on a Saturday.

 

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