Not a Long hater, but he has a problem............

…he is in the midst of trying to get all home games in Fayetteville sooner rather than later, without doing any more damage than is necessary. I think that is the right decision for the program but it does not come without a cost. The recent LR midweek game against a nothing opponent was always guaranteed to generate a low turnout. That should have been and I think was expected since the last five games in Little Rock have not sold out including an SEC major game against Georgia. The threat of Hurricane Harvey just slam dunked the attendance. So, Long got his “cherry on top” justification to back up his “surprise” recommendation to announce Vanderbilt next year would be the end of games in Little Rock for the Razorbacks. The problem is that the Razorback fans in central, east, and south Arkansas have been sending (with their lack of butts in the seats) a loud and clear message for five years that there is a significant part of the fan base that is losing interest. There are enough hard core fans from around the state, strong local Northwest Arkansas attendance, student turnout, and the corporate skybox crowd to fill the RRS seats and boxes, ensuring that more money will be made by the move. In time, resentment will die down but there is fertile ground for ASU, UCA, and UALR to grow their programs in the rest of the state. That won’t significantly hurt the Hogs, so it will just be different.

From reading your post, I guess I don’t see what Long’s problem is. The resentment, as you say, will die down if it is announced that the Little Rock games are ending. Will the Hogs lose fans? Yes, probably some, but as you said, there’s enough in NWA to make up for it. I see the clear benefits of playing all home games on campus, and I see how people in other regions of the state may not be happy with the move. I’m not sure there’s a way to make everybody happy in this situation. What I do know is Arkansas is the only Power 5 conference team to still play games away from their regular home stadium, and eventually, they are bound to move them all to Fayetteville.

I don’t think a lack of attendance in Little Rock means a lack of interest. It means there are cheaper, more efficient options to watch every game than there used to be. With increasing student enrollment, more ways to watch and the proliferation of news outlets covering the team, I would venture to say there is more interest in Arkansas football than ever before.

The last time the contract was up I was for playing in Little Rock a couple of times a year. I’m not in favor of any more LR games now. The world has changed since then, especially the media world. It is easy for most any body in the state to follow the team. Economically the number of fans who can’t afford to go to Fayetteville is probably largely the same set of fans who can’t afford to buy tickets-especially season tickets.

The Athletic Department also has a lot better handle now on what they can expect crowd wise in Fayetteville, regardless of the quality of the opponent, than when the last LR contract was signed. At that point there was some anxiety over whether attendance in Fayetteville would be high enough to compensate for any lost support because of the LR game reductions . Sixty Thousand average non-conference in Fayetteville(a very conservative number, I have no idea what the actual has been the last four or five years) is more profitable than fifty five thousand sold out in Little Rock by a wide margin.

So it becomes a question of whether the game/experience is interesting enough for people to go the expense of traveling to Fayetteville. And just like last Thursday night, some people in south, east and central Arkansas are less likely to come see the Hogs play an FCS school than an SEC school.

Last figure I saw (several years ago) is that a game in RRS is worth at least $1 million more than a game in WMS, assuming both are sold out. I suspect that is inaccurate now, and it will become more inaccurate next year when they add a net of 4200 new premium seats next year that WMS can’t match.

UALR is not going to add football. Their feasibility study will show it, well, isn’t feasible at the FBS level, which is what they want because of Sun Belt membership. D-II, maybe, but playing Harding and Henderson ain’t what they have in mind. Neither is playing UCA at the FCS level.

Basketball cut back to one LR game many years ago, and probably would get rid of that if the students weren’t gone for a month around Christmas. That one game doesn’t sell out either, yet there has been no groundswell of building support for UCA or ASU or UALR hoops. Yes, some people will get their feelings hurt, just as they did when we cut back to two LR games at the start of GSD and one later on. Eventually they get over it. Or not. Their call.

I did a quick and dirty population estimate, everything in the state within roughly 125 miles of UA (two hour drive) plus Pulaski and all counties touching Pulaski. I get 2 million people. Which means only one million Arkansans living outside that area. And there will be/are quite a few people who live outside that area who buy RRS tickets anyway. Bottom line is, you can find 60,000 people out of 2 million plus to buy tickets (deducting students and visiting fans). And we obviously have fans in southern Missouri and northeast Oklahoma within easy driving range as well.

There are huge land mines to moving the game(s) from Little Rock. I think he understands it. Ultimately, he may make a recommendation, but it’s not going to be his decision. It’s going to lie with the Board of Trustees.

There is an element in this discussion which I never have seen discussed. The people from outside Northwest Arkansas will come and watch the Hogs play in Fayetteville, but for the most part the people in Northwest Arkansas don’t come to Little Rock to watch the Hogs play. I am not sure this can be proven, but I believe it.

I have two children with families who live in Fayetteville. They will go to the Fayetteville games using my tickets, but never will come to Little Rock for the games. I, on the other hand, have gone to Little Rock and Fayetteville games my whole life, and I was from Southeast Arkansas. I grew up going, no matter how much of a pain in the butt it was to drive to Fayetteville. Before the interstate and I-530, we got up at 4:30 a.m. and drove 6 plus hours to Fayetteville for the 1:00 p.m. game. I understand that in my childhood, the only way to watch the Hogs was to go to the game, and now I can watch it on beautiful HD TV every weekend.

Swine is right. Most of the state now lives nearer Fayetteville. 60 years ago, Northwest Arkansas was a rural area with very few people living there. The demographics have changed, along with the need for games in Little Rock. Things change, sometimes not for the better…but they change anyway.

At the time the stadium was first expanded 16 years ago, the figures UA gave me for stadium-related stories I wrote for Hawgs Illustrated were that one third of our season-ticket holders were Fayetteville only, one third were Little Rock only, and the other third bought both. Of course this obviously was pre-expansion and Northwest Arkansas has continued to grow exponentially since then. And they don’t indicate where the the people who had tickets in both stadiums lived – in central Arkansas, NWA or somewhere else. But it does give you an idea what the demographics were then.

I live in about 12 miles west of Searcy and attends games on the hill. My daughter and her husband live in Sherwood. My Daughter and her husband have attended all the of the hogs games to include roads games for the last 4 years. The only games I will not attend at all myself are the games in Little Rock.
The hog experience of driving up the pig trial changed with the new 4 lane. What a nice ride. The same can be said about the RRS compared to War Memorial Stadium.
The whole experience of going to see the hogs is just more fun to take the ride to the hill. From tailgating to watching the game.
It also makes no sense to loose money by continuing to play in Little Rock.
True fans will support our hogs. I hope the change is made also I hope they buy out next years game against Vandy and play that one on the hill as well.
I’m not a fan of the Southwest Classic either. Play a non conference opponent in Jerry’s world. That’s just my opinion.

The costs of moving the games out of LR have nothing to do with gameday money. As a kid my family was not poor, but we didn’t have enough money to travel to Fayetteville regularly. I became a hog fan attending games with my dad and brother in LR. Will kids in other parts of the state still become hog fans if they don’t get the experience of seeing games in person? Will they still want to go to Fayetteville because they love the Razorbacks?

 I know the pop in NWA is growing, and everyone expects those people will offset any losses in fans from other parts of the state.  But will they?  Those people moving in went to other schools, and will probably take their kids to those other school's games, want to support their alma mater, etc.  The student pop is growing, but most of those students are from out of state.  Will they become fans?  Razorback Foundation members?

 I realize the games almost have to move out of LR, but there will be costs that many people discount because they see the extra $1M on gameday.  The powers that be need to think long and hard about how to keep the rest of the state connected to the Razorbacks when they cancel the games.  I dont think NWA cannot carry this program on its own.  My idea would be have a long weekend with the spring game in LR, with some kind of big fan day thing and lots of interaction with kids, mini-camps with the players or something.

No can do. Spring games have to be played on campus. Forty years ago there were two Red-White games a year, one in RRS in the afternoon and the other the next Saturday night in WMS which was a really big deal. NCAA cut that out.

Simple solution would be:

Football: Arkansas vs ACC team in Memphis every 2yrs.

Basketball & Baseball: Arkansas vs Memphis

That creates a absolute ton of accessable exposure to the Central/Eastern population.

How does Mich get away with practicing in FL or Italy in the spring? So you don’t call it a “game”, just have one or two open practices that finish with a big scrimmage.

The way the NCAA works is that somebody tries something, like practicing in Italy, somebody else doesn’t like it and they pass a rule against it. Which is precisely why the NCAA rule book is so long and hard to understand. I think there’s already been some response in this way to the stuff Harbaugh’s doing in Ann Arbor. In fact there is already an NCAA rule against off-campus football practices while a school is on vacation, passed in response to Harbaugh’s practices in Florida during spring break in 2016. But Harbaugh took his team to Italy before the rule went into effect this summer – and during the school year, not during a vacation. So you can expect another legislative response to that, and he’ll go looking for another loophole to exploit.

I dug into the NCAA rulebook. I don’t see the rule mentioned above that no practices can take place off campus during vacation, or a ban on off-campus spring games either. Where I think we got tripped up is that there can only be one spring game per school per year (Bylaw 17.10.5.2) and it must be held at the end of the spring practice period, so our dual games in RRS and WMS could not continue.

Arkansas baseball plays a game at Dickey-Stephens Park every year, often against Memphis.

The decision will be made by the Board of Trustees after a recommendation from below.

It wouldn’t see as if Long would not be coming out so forceful that the 2018 game would be played in Little Rock if the school really had the idea to buy it out.

I believe a sellout in Fayetteville will generate $1.5 million per game than a sellout in Little Rock once the new stuff is finished in the North End Zone

Not sure why you would want to play a game in Memphis when you already have a home game in Arlington every two years.

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium is almost as far from Little Rock as RRS. Playing in Memphis would be wonderful if you live in Helena or Blytheville or Forrest City. For most of the rest of the state, it isn’t much better than RRS.

You are correct that we already give up three recruiting weekends every two years: One in Little Rock every year, one in Arlington every other year. At least Arlington is in a prime recruiting area for us for both athletes and regular students. I suppose we draw both from the Memphis area as well, but it doesn’t compare with DFW. If I had my druthers, we’d go back to home and home with the Aggies, which is what they want anyway, but JL and the rest of the administration seem intent on at least completing the current contract at JerryWorld. The answer is not to take away another home game/recruiting weekend.

Don Bobbitt and the Trustees get to make this decision. Jeff and Joe Steinmetz will make their recommendations, but this is over even Jeff’s lofty pay grade. An extra $1.5 million per RRS game sounds about right given the number of new seats and what I understand they’re asking for them. The Founders Suites money is a different thing; that’s providing much of the financing to build this project.

Founder’s Suites provided $20m, while that is great, it’s far from “providing much” of the $160m if it ends up costing that. I’d surmise that the difference in 2018 RRS and 2018 WMS net is north of $2m/game. The 172 suites and nearly 12,000 club level seats easily push it to there.

The plan was to raise $40 million and issue bonds for $120 million. The Founders Suites are producing 75% of that if it’s 10 suites at $3,000,000 a pop, which is what I’ve been told. So yeah, that’s a pretty big chunk.

By the way your numbers are off. There aren’t 12,000 club seats. Per UA’s own figures in the response to Senator Pryor’s questions about the NEZ project, there will be slightly over 10,000 club and loge seats when the new stuff is built and East Outdoor is removed to make room for the Founders Suites. And there will be room for about 3,600 in the suites.

In fact, I’ll list them here:
Club/Loge
South Outdoor Club 3,690
South Indoor Club 1,651
East Indoor Club 2,148
(East Outdoor Club, 637, is going away)
North End Zone Upper Club 1,160
North End Zone Lower Club 1,061
Field level Loge Boxes 80
Mid-Level Loge Boxes 272
Suites
West Suite 877
South Suite 397
East Suite 626
Suite Standing Room 906
NEZ Upper Level 262
NEZ Lower Level 214
Founders Suites 300

While all of that certainly increases our revenue in Fayetteville, you have to remember a factor that decreases it: Holding 10,000 seats for students at $85 for the season. And even that is an overestimate because the $85 also includes basketball. But if you attribute all of that $85 to football, that means the students are getting in for 14 bucks a game, while the people across the aisle in Section 115 are paying $60 a game on average plus required donations. Student section in Little Rock is minimal and they don’t sell what they have there either, so the hit to revenue is diminished.