We all realize NWA is growing, but I’m not sure many realize just how quickly.
The current population estimate for the NWA metro area is ~525,000 (up from ~405,000 in 2005).
Recently, Walmart CEO Doug McMillan stated “the region is on pace to grow to more than 1 million residents over the next 15 years.” <LINK_TEXT text=“http://talkbusiness.net/2016/08/arkansa … ate-reach/”>http://talkbusiness.net/2016/08/arkansas-childrens-ceo-says-nw-arkansas-poised-for-more-growth-shares-plans-for-additional-state-reach/</LINK_TEXT>
(FWIW, this means it is likely that NWA will be the largest Metro in the state by the year 2035 or possibly sooner.)
Even if that’s an aggressive projection, the Urban Institute recently released projections of NWA population growth at various levels through 2030. It found that if NWA’s death rates, birth rates, and migration rates are just average, our population will increase to over 800,000 by 2030. If those rates are below average the projection is 707,000. But, if the growth continues to snowball as it has the previous 20 years here, above average growth will lead to a population of ~950,000 by 2030.
You can play with the model here: http://apps.urban.org/features/mapping- … tures/#map
This will have great effects on the University and its athletic programs.
All of the teams should benefit from a vastly larger local talent pool. More blue-chip recruits will be produced on a regular basis because the area will essentially be twice as big. Furthermore, the more growth the area has, the easier it will be to combat old Arkansas stereotypes (i.e. it’s all rural hills; no one wants to live there; it lacks amenities; etc.).
It is concerning, however, regarding the stadium expansion. Maybe we don’t need 85,000 or 90,000 seats right now, but we will much sooner than most expect. I don’t see where you go after the upcoming expansion. Perhaps an upper deck could be added one day on top of the new North End Zone project.
But no matter how you look at it, it is hard for me to see any way the doubling of NWA’s population over the next 15 years will do anything but help our athletic programs.