LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - War Memorial Stadium will celebrate its 70th anniversary next year and throughout the years, it hasn't always been an easy road for the stadium to keep its doors open.
It’s a crucial time for the stadium, especially after concerns regarding if the Razorback football team will keep coming to Little Rock to play. That’s why new changes are soon coming to War Memorial Stadium. Stadium leaders say those changes will make the future bright, not bleak.
This year, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill that merged the free-standing War Memorial Stadium Commission into the state's Department of Parks and Tourism. One reason for the merger was marketing and advertising opportunities. Now, working with CJRW, the stadium will employ new marketing techniques both inside and outside. There will be things like interior signs hanging from the ceilings, interior posters and murals to market the food and drink options, and giant murals on the outside of the stadium showcasing upcoming events.
Dan Sawyer, Vice President and Director of Special Events for CJRW, said these plans are going to happen over time with different phases.
“We are working feverishly to have some of the changes up for Guns N’ Roses and the Razorback football game here at the end of August,” said Sawyer.
CJRW plans to help create a lot of new exciting things around the concourse to make it an attraction, not just a place for sporting events. Yet, sporting events will still be a huge deal for the stadium. Jerry Cohen, War Memorial’s Stadium Manager, said there will soon be a major scoreboard upgrade.
“New enhancements of the video board and scoreboard are going to be phenomenal because we’re going from a 2004 technology of standard definition to a high definition video board,” said Cohen.
Cohen said they are also working to expand use of the stadium for more than just sporting and music events.
“250 days out of the year we have one or more events at the stadium,” said Cohen. “We want to increase our involvement in things like receptions, meetings, parties, and festivals.”
While there will be many changes to the stadium, they are also trying to remember the past. They are planning ways to highlight what makes War Memorial a war memorial.
“It is a tribute to the veterans of our country,” said Sawyer. “We will be adding signs and murals to the concourse to create some awareness photos and graphics that really honor our commitment with the military.”
Overall, Cohen said he feels the direction moving forward is the right one.
“I think it’s just a roadmap to success,” he said.
Cohen also said a feasibility study is in the works to see what else the stadium can be used for, including additional sports like rugby. The results of the study should be out by October or November of 2017. He also said they haven't totally lost hope of the Razorbacks coming to play at the stadium in the future. He said it's still considered a work in progress.