WMS funding cuts proposed by Gov. Hutchinson

Not til 2019, but the writing is on the wall. That would certainly make Jeff Long’s decision easier. If the budget gets cut in half, they’ll have to make it up through higher rents to teams playing there.

http://www.arkansasmatters.com/news/loc … sed-budget

I have loved the place for years and attended many, many great games there, but that time has come and gone. There is just too much money lost by playing there.

I hope we can somehow remain Arkansas’ team and not just the University of Arkansas’ team.

Not surprised at any time Asa wants to cut funding for anything. Having said that, it’s one more nail in the coffin for WMS. I don’t disagree that they need to use WMS more often for all kinds of things to broaden the revenue stream, and that is true even if we still played 3 a year in LR.

If so, that probably dooms the place as a viable venue for anything but high school & small college football games.

It gives WMS time to start thinking about other ways of generating revenue.

I have seen the suggestion that WMS remove some field level seats on the sideline, and perhaps the end zone bleachers, and market itself as a soccer-specific facility. Thirty thousand seats would be plenty, and the field level seats would allow a 75 yard wide pitch. Dunno how successful that might be unless LR gets a pro team at some level, but the status quo isn’t really an option either.

They actually have a soccer team. I think they had about 5,000 on hand for the season opener this past year.

one problem they are going to have with WMS is that by reducing the operating budget, the rent to local high schools and youth events will have to increase. Right now, LifeChamps, and other organizations hold their “championship” games under the lights at WMS. IF the rent is increased, these groups will go away. Also, Catholic High has a night practice field and can add seats and quit playing on Friday nights. If the stadium rent is too high, the LR Rangers soccer team will go elsewhere. It is not a music venue nor appropriate for UCA or ASU. It is a memorial to the men and women who died defending our country. To have it mothballed and eventually torn down is truly sad. The State should fund it for the ability for high school kids, etc. to have that memory.

This was the final season that Arkansas will pay a rental fee to play there. The Razorbacks get two free appearances as a result of tacking on a couple of extra years to the previous contract, which ran through 2016. Arkansas has been paying $475,000 the past three years to play there - $400,000 to move one game a year back to Fayetteville and $75,000 to use the facility.

So between the funding cuts and the Hog revenue drying up the place is doomed.

It will probably stumble along as a high school football/odds and ends venue for another five or ten years, but there won’t be a good revenue stream to fund major ticket items, and sooner or later there will be major expenses- replacing the turf for instance.

At some point the state is going to have to take a deep breath, pull the plug, and re-purpose the property.

Something else to consider in terms of its financial stability: It appeared to me that AT&T has pulled its field sponsorship during the game there a few weeks ago. Those black bars that used to say “AT&T Field” now just say “Little Rock.”

AT&T was locked in for five years when it signed the agreement with the stadium in 2010, then had an annual renewal option for another five years. That was supposed to be worth more than $1 million to the stadium.

Certainly the finances are working against the stadium in the short term, with $300,000 deficits projected from 2019-21. I can imagine Kevin Crass has a hard job right now.

ATT may have cut out when the UA went to 1 game.

I hope they blow that dump up after our last game there in 2018.

The handwriting is pretty much on the wall. The hogs won’t be playing there much longer. I can’t say that’s the wrong decision. The money & recruiting advantages that go along with playing in RRS are becoming bigger & bigger factors in the decision. However, taking games out of Little Rock will come with a cost. That “second home” for the hogs has created a whole lot of hog fans from Central, Southern & Eastern Ark that wouldn’t have become hog fans if they’d never played there. There are a lot of fans who won’t be able to see the team in person any more. Like I said, I’m not sure those costs make the move a bad one, but they’re still there.

Problem is that those fans haven’t shown up to watch them the last few years they’ve been there. If the place we’re still hosting sold-out games, there would be a little more argument. But the fact that so many tickets went unsold this year at such cheap prices (and UGA tix two years ago…so don’t talk about opponent strength) shows they’d rather stay on the golf course or on their couch anyways.

No doubt attendance has been a problem, but that doesn’t change the fact that removal of the games reduces the ability of thousands to attend games. In the long run thats going to hurt. Maybe not as much as trying to keep a game there, but it will hurt nonetheless. (BTW, until this year the WMS tickets were higher priced than those in RRS. This year with lower prices the EZ’s were pretty near full. That tells me many fans who cant afford higher price tickets showed up. The biggest gap in seating was in the student section. Students didnt come down to watch Alcorn St.)