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Why Arkansas has 2 (or is it 3?) home football stadiums

Little Rock still gets a Hogs game every season — for now.

Lots of college football teams play home games at places other than their usual home stadiums. Neutral-site games have become a big part of the sport’s machinery, and it’s common for teams to move home contests from rural or suburban campuses to nearby big cities. Think Wisconsin playing at Lambeau Field, Maryland playing in Baltimore, Notre Dame playing in Chicago, Arizona playing near Phoenix, and on and on.

The Arkansas Razorbacks do things differently. They play most of their home games at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, in the northwest corner of the state.

USC Trojans v Arkansas Razorbacks
Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

But every year, they spend a home game or two at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, the state capital about 200 miles to the southeast.

Mississippi State v Arkansas
War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

They’ll do it again for this year’s opener against Florida A&M (8 p.m. ET Thursday, SEC Network.) Fayetteville is the team’s primary home, but Arkansas really does have two home fields.

And lately, they’ve been playing Texas A&M in Texas every year, at a certain famous alum’s house, though the Hogs aren’t always technically the home team there.

Texas A&M v Arkansas
JerryWorld in Arlington, Texas
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Their football history has built up concurrently in two places.

  • The Hogs’ first game in Little Rock was in 1948. They’ve played there 238 times.
  • They opened up Razorback Stadium a decade earlier, in 1938, and have only played there 280 times.

These games are meant to unify the state behind the Razorbacks.

The state has two FBS programs: Arkansas and Arkansas State. UA has been playing since 1894, ASU since 1911. The teams have played each other zero times.

For years, Arkansas coaches have had a rule against scheduling in-state opponents. Bret Bielema, the current coach, says the two will “never” play each other. The sell is that not facing each other enables everyone in the state to support both teams.

“I think it’s what makes the state of Arkansas beautiful,” Bielema said last year.

Playing in Little Rock works toward the same end. Fayetteville is in a fairly remote part of the state. Little Rock is the state’s most populous city by a factor of more than two. It’s closer to most of the state’s people than Fayetteville is, and playing games there is a way to bring the football program to the people.


This Reddit post by an Arkansas fan three years ago sheds lots of light. I’ve added a couple of paragraph breaks:

Until Walmart brought in the money for NW Arkansas, Fayetteville was just a small college town with nothing. Also, the only way to get there was a small highway. Going up either highways 23 or 71 use [sic] to be a nightmare.

You would have 20,000 people from Little Rock trying to drive up those roads on Friday and Saturday. They have an interstate now and NW Arkansas has a similar population to Little Rock now. They also did this with basketball. They use to play a lot of basketball games in Little Rock and Pine Bluff until Bud Walton arena was built in the early 90's. War Memorial in Little Rock was also the better stadium and better experience until around the early 2000's.

It's also easier to tailgate in Little Rock because they have a golf course for everyone to park on and drink. Little Rock also had more hotels and restaurants. NW Arkansas also just recently built a large airport. Little Rock use to be the only city with a major airport in the state. Fort Smith had a bigger airport, than Fayetteville. Now that people can watch every game on tv and it is easier to travel to Fayetteville, there is no reason to have more than one game in Little Rock.

Aside from all of that, there are Arkansas boosters in Little Rock, too. Playing a game or two a year in their neighborhood can’t be a bad way to connect with them.

Our Hogs blog, Arkansas Fight, tied a lot of the arguments for Little Rock together in 2012:

I hope the University of Arkansas finds a way to keep sharing the wealth of excitement, tradition, and fun that is the Arkansas Razorback football team with the rest of the state in Little Rock beyond 2015. I think it would be sad to lose a good and worthwhile tradition of sharing the state's favorite team beyond the confines of Fayetteville. Sharing after-all is a virtue in and of itself.

But the Hogs’ future in Little Rock is increasingly uncertain.

In the 1990s, the school sometimes played four games in Little Rock, but the games have become less frequent. In 2013, the team and the War Memorial Stadium Commission updated their contract, dropping the Hogs from two games a year in Little Rock to one. There’s no agreement beyond 2018.

Arkansas has held some massive games in Little Rock. The last was in 2014, when a 10th-ranked Georgia visited and won. Since then, UA has used its Little Rock appearances on the likes of the MAC’s Toledo (which won) and FCS teams Alcorn State and FAMU.

The games might not last forever, and the balance between Arkansas’ two homes has shifted away from Little Rock and toward Fayetteville. Still, though: two home fields! Or three!