The University of Arkansas blames the SEC for scrapping plans for a Razorback spring football game in Little Rock, but it sounds like other plans were in the works on the Fayetteville campus.
The Razorbacks wrap up spring practice on Saturday, April 25 inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium with the team’s final spring practice open to the public. Arkansas submitted a waiver to the Southeastern Conference requesting permission to hold the final spring scrimmage in Little Rock. An approved waiver from the SEC is required to hold any spring practice off campus. The waiver was not approved.
“As part of our ONE Razorback initiative, our goal remains to engage fans throughout Arkansas and beyond,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek said. “Unfortunately, we did not receive the necessary waiver to accommodate the spring game at War Memorial Stadium as originally planned. However, we will continue to explore additional opportunities to enhance the numerous events already being held throughout the state to help bring the Razorbacks closer to our fans.”
With the final spring practice now set for Fayetteville, the weekend will include several other Razorback sporting events as well as serve as the annual A Club reunion, an event that welcomes back all former letterwinners in all sports. Razorback baseball will host an SEC series with Auburn at Baum-Walker Stadium that weekend. The men’s and women’s track & field programs will host the National Relay Championships, holding events Friday night and Saturday at John McDonnell Field. The defending SEC champion women’s soccer team will host Oklahoma on campus on Saturday in a spring exhibition.
Under an FOI request, I got the request the UA made for relocation of the spring game off-campus and the SEC response, which said there weren’t sufficient “extenuating circumstances” to move the game.
The UA said using the stadium in spring was an opportunity to have additional “engagement opportunities” with fans in Central Arkansas.
The letter, however, did not specifically mention that the Razorbacks struck a six-year deal that provided for three regular-season games and three spring games in Little Rock through 2024. The deal included stadium improvements at War Memorial and benchmarks on ticket sales. LSU recently got approval from the SEC for a spring game off-campus because of turf work in Tiger Stadium.
War Memorial had spent $2.8 million in state funds since the contract was reached in improvements, including ongoing locker room and security improvements.
I asked Kevin Trainor why UA hadn’t gone into more detail in the waiver request and cited the contract and state expenditures on War Memorial. Will pass along the response. It was known that a waiver would be required, but War Memorial didn’t expect an issue. It was to be paid $75,000 for use of the stadium, but could make money on concessions, including beer sales.
UPDATE: Said Trainor:
Facility enhancements included in the agreement are related to hosting regular season games. Not applicable to the waiver for spring practice/game.