Will bringing back Trojan football help keep the iconic sports venue relevant
So Little Rock is launching a feasibility to see about bringing back football to the central Arkansas school.
I’m not exactly sure how I’m supposed to react to this.
On one level, I’m like… Yeah! More football!
Somewhere inside my brain: Oh… this is a bad idea.
My best guess this is an effort to save War Memorial Stadium. It’s only a matter of when the Razorbacks leave.
Which leads me to another disappointment… Arkansas Tech played one game at Airedale Stadium at Citizens Bank Field. It looked like it was going to be a thing.
However, the idea never really took hold.
I still like the idea of now having… Van Buren, Alma, Southside or Northside hosting a Great American Conference football game once a year between an Arkansas and Oklahoma team.
My suspicion is that there isn’t enough money to justify either team to give up the home revenue from such games.
But I digressed.
Back to Little Rock.
It’s not an easy task to rebuild a program. Now, Hendrix revived its football program after 53 years and it had a bit of success. Since Hendrix football began in 2013, the team earned the school’s first-ever post-season bid in 2015.
There’s no guarantee Little Rock will meet the same level of success early in the process.
First, it will have to compete in the Sun Belt Conference with schools like Arkansas State, University of Louisiana-Monroe, and Troy. For those who don’t pay attention or have really bad memories… ULM beat the Razorbacks in overtime back in 2012.
Granted, it wasn’t a good year for the Razorbacks. The team just lost Bobby Petrino and it was stuck with John L. Smith. However, it wasn’t a game that should have gone into overtime or the Hogs should have lost.
Petrino and company let Troy score late in 2011, to make the game closer, 38-28, then it needed to be.
The Razorbacks won’t play Arkansas State out of fear of being humiliated by an in-state school. I have no proof of this, but I can’t think of a logical reason as to why. The Razorbacks will face another Sun Belt Conference member, New Mexico State, this season.
The point is the trip down memory lane is to illustrate Little Rock will be set up in a league where teams are scheduled to help pad the “W” column for the bigger schools. However, it could be a good fundraiser for the future of the LR program.
Adding either a football team to the Trojans’ program or even expanding soccer in Little Rock will help keep War Memorial Stadium relevant. But for how much longer?
As long as it’s put to proper use, the historical and venerated stadium will continue to serve some purpose for the city of Little Rock and the state. Unlike when Fort Smith allowed Andrews Field to fall into disrepair and let it get torn down.
A ball field within 13 years of celebrating 100 years and Fort Smith just tosses it aside like it was nothing.
Granted it took about 30 years of ignoring the park before they decided to simply end its use.
I digressed again, didn’t I?
If the football thing is a thing… it will help stave off WMS’s decline, for at least a while.
But what happens if Little Rock Trojan football becomes a big thing?
What if the team finds some success and momentum and the school thinks War Memorial Stadium no longer suits its needs?
I wrote that question before even looking at the other teams in the SBC.
War Memorial Stadium seats over 54,000. Most of the other schools in the league seat around 30,000 or less. Suffice to say, it’ll be a long time before Little Rock outgrows the stadium.
However, if Trojan football lands in War Memorial Stadium, the immediate impact would be the annual contest with Arkansas State and Little Rock. It could become one of the biggest games in Arkansas.
If the Trojans get their football team… I guess that would be one more in-state team the Razorbacks will ignore.
Also, if Little Rock plays Troy… they’re both Trojans, so the easiest headline may read: TROJAN WAR!
After I cast out my doubts about whether this will work or not, I for one welcome the opportunity for the kids in Arkansas to get a chance to play at the college level and have their education paid for. Also, if they also add a marching band, it gives, even more, opportunities for kids to keep doing what they love.
At the end of the day, that’s what it should be about.