War Memorial Stadium (Arkansas)

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War Memorial Stadium
War Memorial Stadium is located in Arkansas
War Memorial Stadium
War Memorial Stadium
Location in Arkansas
War Memorial Stadium is located in the United States
War Memorial Stadium
War Memorial Stadium
Location in the United States
Location1 Stadium Drive
Little Rock, AR 72205
Coordinates34°44′59.5″N 92°19′48.0″W / 34.749861°N 92.330000°W / 34.749861; -92.330000Coordinates: 34°44′59.5″N 92°19′48.0″W / 34.749861°N 92.330000°W / 34.749861; -92.330000
OwnerState of Arkansas
OperatorArkansas Department of Parks, Heritage & Tourism
Capacity54,120 (2010–present)
53,727 (1991–2009)
53,645 (1988–1990)
53,250 (1986–1987)
53,555 (1967–1985)
40,000 (1960–1966)
31,075 (1948–1959)
Record attendance55,912 (September 19, 1992 vs. Alabama)[1]
Field size360 by 160 feet (110 m × 49 m)
SurfaceFieldTurf
Construction
Broke ground1947
OpenedSeptember 18, 1948[4]
Renovated2010
Construction cost$1.2 million
($12.9 million in 2020 dollars[2])
ArchitectBruce R. Anderson[3]
Tenants
Arkansas Razorbacks (NCAA) (1948–present)
Little Rock Rangers (NPSL) (2016–present)
Catholic High School Rockets (AAA)
Parkview Magnet High School Patriots (AAA) (2017–present)
Website
www.wmstadium.com

War Memorial Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Little Rock, Arkansas. The stadium is primarily used for American football and is the home stadium for the Catholic High School Rockets,[5] the Parkview Magnet High School Patriots,[6] and the secondary home stadium for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.[7] The USL League Two affiliated Little Rock Rangers hold both home games and youth academies at the stadium.[8] The Arkansas Activities Association high school football championship games for all classifications are held at the stadium annually.[9]

History

War Memorial Stadium was designed by architect Bruce R. Anderson with construction finished in 1947 at the cost of $1.2 million.[10] Initial seating capacity was 31,075. On September 19, 1948, the stadium was formally dedicated by former Arkansas Razorback and Medal of Honor recipient Maurice Britt. Britt dedicated the stadium to "the memory of her native sons and daughters who have given so much that we might have our freedom."[11] Following the dedication ceremony, the first game at the stadium commenced, where the Arkansas Razorbacks defeated the Abilene Christian Wildcats by a score of 40–6.

Other early college football contests included Philander Smith College, Ouachita Baptist College, and Arkansas Tech as well as the predecessors of the University of Arkansas Little Rock, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, University of Arkansas Monticello, and University of Central Arkansas.[12] The stadium hosted the Delta Classic from 2006 to 2012, an annual football game between the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions and other Historically Black Colleges & Universities.[13] The Arkansas State Red Wolves, Hendrix College, and Arkansas Baptist College have also played there in the past.[14]

War Memorial Stadium during a Catholic High School football game.

War Memorial Stadium hosted three professional football games in the years immediately following its opening. The Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles played on September 10, 1949 and again on September 1, 1951. The Eagles also competed with the Detroit Lions in the stadium on August 23, 1952.[15]

War Memorial Stadium has added numerous improvements to the stadium and to the playing field. A complete lighting system and an AstroTurf surface were installed for the 1970 season. A new artificial surface was installed in 1974 and also again prior to the 1984 season, before a returning to natural grass field in 1994.[4] Artificial turf was reinstalled prior to the 2002 season when AstroPlay was installed. A new scoreboard and video screen were added prior to the 2005 football season and the field was later upgraded to field turf in 2006.[16]

Renovations to the club facility and press box began on December 14, 2009, following the 4A Arkansas Activities Association high school football championship game.[17] The renovations cost approximately $7.3 million and was completed in August 2010. The renovations also included the Sports Media Legends Wall of Honor, honoring Arkansas sports journalists that distinguished themselves in their careers and have made contributions to the stadium and to the sport.[18]

Other uses

In addition to athletics, the stadium has been used for a variety of other purposes including musical concerts and speaking engagements.

Concerts

In 1995, Billy Joel and Elton John performed to a sell-out crowd of 41,274, grossing over $1.6 million for concert promoter Cellar Door Concerts.[19] Other artists who had performed at the stadium are The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, George Strait, and 'N Sync, among others.[20][21]

In 2017, Guns N' Roses made a stop here as part of their "Not in this Lifetime" Tour.

Speaking engagements

President Harry S. Truman spoke at the stadium in June of 1949.[22]

Comedian Bob Hope performed in 1949 and again in 1991 at War Memorial Stadium.[23]

Reverend Billy Graham conducted his evangelistic crusades to thousands of listeners at the stadium that included a young Bill Clinton in 1959.[24] Graham returned to the stadium in 1989.

Notable events

Aluminum Bowl

Months prior to the 1956 NAIA football season, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) began searching for cities to host the inaugural NAIA championship game. As it appeared that the championship game was headed to Shreveport, Louisiana, the Louisiana legislature passed a bill banning integrated sporting events in the state.[25] Since some of their member colleges had African-American athletes, NAIA looked for another city to host the game. War Memorial Stadium general manager Allen Berry worked with local businesses and the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce to raise $25,000 to get NAIA to host the game in Little Rock.[25] Both Aluminum Company of America and Reynolds Metals Company agreed to pay $25,000 each to CBS to broadcast the game nationally and this agreement led to the game's name, the Aluminum Bowl.[25] The NAIA invited the Montana State University Bobcats and St. Joseph's College Pumas, the two leading NAIA football teams at that time, to play on December 22, 1956.[26][27] The final result was a scoreless tie, and the teams were named NAIA co-champions for the 1956 season. Despite promotion of the game by local organizers, only 5,000 spectators attended the game. Organizers failed to keep the championship game in Little Rock and the game moved to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1957.[25][28]

Salt Bowl

The Benton High School Panthers and the Bryant High School Hornets annually play each other for their first football game of the season. Although the rivalry dates to 1974, the game officially became known as the "Salt Bowl" in 2000 when it was first played at War Memorial Stadium. The title is a reference to the 19th century salt works that gave Saline County, the home of both the cities of Benton and Bryant, its name. While Benton dominated the rivalry in its early years, since 2000 Bryant has won all but two match-ups: a loss in 2005 and tie in 2014. Each year the Salt Bowl draws the largest high school football crowd of the season in Arkansas, and exceeds the attendance of most college football games held in the state. Over 20,000 tickets are sold on average, with a record of 38,215 set in 2018. On August 29, 2020, the annual contest was held amidst the Covid-19 pandemic with War Memorial Stadium restricted to approximately 25% capacity. This made the Salt Bowl the first sizable sporting event with spectators since the pandemic began; it also marked the first time the game was available on pay-per-view. [29][30]

See also

References

  1. ^ Carter, Mark (July 28, 2009). "War Memorial: A One-Day Lambeau South?". Arkansas Sports 360. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  2. ^ 1634 to 1699: Harris, P. (1996). "Inflation and Deflation in Early America, 1634–1860: Patterns of Change in the British American Economy". Social Science History. 20 (4): 469–505. JSTOR 1171338. 1700-1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How much is that in real money?: a historical price index for use as a deflator of money values in the economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  3. ^ Horton, Aaron D. (November 5, 2012). "War Memorial Stadium". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  4. ^ a b "War Memorial Stadium". University of Arkansas Media Relations. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  5. ^ "Football | Little Rock Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, Arkansas". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  6. ^ "Parkview Magnet High School (Little Rock, AR) Athletics". www.lrparkviewathletics.com. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  7. ^ "Hogs Drop Season Finale to Missouri". Arkansas Razorbacks. 2019-11-29. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  8. ^ "Little Rock Rangers - National Premier Soccer League". Little Rock Rangers. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  9. ^ "Football". www.ahsaa.org. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  10. ^ "Encyclopedia of Arkansas". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  11. ^ "War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock, Pulaski County". Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  12. ^ Concessions Ledger 1948-49, on file in War Memorial Stadium office
  13. ^ Hunt, Donald (October 18, 2006). "Arkansas-Pine Bluff surprises Grambling State". ESPN.
  14. ^ astateredwolves.com
  15. ^ "When the Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams played in Arkansas". Best of Arkansas Sports. 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  16. ^ "Arkansas to play on new FieldTurf surface in '06". Associated Press. ESPN. June 15, 2006. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  17. ^ "Press Box Construction Begins" (Press release). December 11, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  18. ^ "War Memorial Stadium Honors Sports Media Legends". KATV. September 10, 2010. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  19. ^ "Amusement Business: Boxscore Top 10 Grosses". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 107 (17): 13. April 29, 1995. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  20. ^ "Homes Sweet Homes". University of Arkansas Media Relations. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  21. ^ "PopOdyssey 2001 Tour Kicks Off Today". Yahoo! Music. May 23, 2001. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  22. ^ Talk Business & Politics staffCasey’s General Stores to offer curb-side pickupSeptember 2, 2020; Michael TilleyUAMS modeling has deaths at almost 1, 700 by Oct 15; state reports antigen testing resultsSeptember 2 (2014-05-13). "65 Years Ago, President Truman Dedicated War Memorial Stadium". Talk Business & Politics. Retrieved 2020-09-02.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ "War Memorial Stadium". www.wmstadium.com. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  24. ^ Clinton, Bill (2004). My Life. New York: Knopf. p. 39. ISBN 0-375-41457-6.
  25. ^ a b c d Edwards, Paul. "Aluminum Bowl". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  26. ^ "Coming Events Dec. 21 Through Jan. 4". Sports Illustrated. December 24, 1956. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  27. ^ "Football Program". 2010-2011 NAIA Football Coach Manual (PDF). p. 8. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  28. ^ "Past Champions". 2010-2011 NAIA Football Coach Manual (PDF). p. 9. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  29. ^ "Encyclopedia of Arkansas". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  30. ^ "Bryant shakes up Benton early". Arkansas Online. 2020-08-30. Retrieved 2020-09-02.

External links