UA-Little Rock is considering starting a football team.
The involvement of state Parks and Tourism Department suggests influence in looking for a tenant for War Memorial Stadium.
This message just went out to campus staff.
This morning UA Little Rock will announce plans to conduct a feasibility study to assess whether the university should consider adding a football program and marching band. This study, a collaboration of the university, the City of Little Rock, and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, is the result of student interest and community interest in bringing a football program back to Little Rock.
The study, expected to start this fall following an RFP process, will examine the pros and cons of starting a football program and marching band, including initial costs and annual costs, staffing, playing venue, facility construction, and economic and student impact, giving us data to consider any next steps.
Since there would be an economic impact on the region, the City of Little Rock and the state Department of Parks and Recreation will share the cost of the study. Our share will be covered by private funds. The study is the university’s due diligence to our students’ request to explore the notion of a football program.
A complete report of the study should be available in spring 2018. Your opinions will be important to us on the matter, and the report will be shared with the campus to solicit input.
Completion of the study isn’t anticipated until the spring of 2018.
The city and state are contributing in an as yet undetermined amount for the study along with private contributions to the Athletic Department. Chancellor Andrew Rogerson said he’s a scientist and wants a decision informed by data. Here’s some data: Football is expensive. Only the University of Arkansas has a self-sustaining athletic department. All the others run deeply in the red, relying mostly on state money and student fees to pay for programs. Arkansas State University runs more than $20 million in the red, primarily because of its efforts to be a Division I football competitor. Defenders of the expenses say successful athletic teams attract students and encourage private giving, though many dispute that argument. Little Rock Junior College, the university’s predecessor, played football in the 1940s, but disbanded the team in 1955.
Mayor Mark Stodola is quoted as saying a team could gave the community a way to rally around the school. There is no mention — at least yet — of a city subsidy. UA now is down to one game a year at War Memorial Stadium and that one game may not last beyond 2018. The Razorback games once were big economic events, though the uncertain time of games according to TV dictates, better highways and the quality of teams playing in Little Rock have diminished the value of the games, some of which have not been sellouts.
Little Rock connotes at the Division I level in basketball. Among the reasons cited for the study was a petition signed by some 1,000 or the campus’ more than 10,000 students in support of the idea.