Harry king postponing the inevitable – sports – pulaski news – north little rock, ar electricity edison

Hand-wringing over the immediate end of Razorback football in Little Rock is over, but, in the big picture, the new contract is only a bridge to 2024 and expiration of Arkansas’s agreement to play Texas A&M in Arlington. Between now and then, those who contend games in War Memorial are an integral part of Razorback football will have six occasions — seven counting Ole Miss on Oct. 13 — to sell that perspective to the UA hierarchy, but talk is cheap.

Extending the decades-long relationship between Razorback football and WMS depends on attendance, atmosphere, and enthusiasm at the SEC games on Thanksgiving weekend in 2019, 2021, and 2023, and the three Red-White contests in the new contract.

Negotiated between the UA and the Department of Parks and Tourism, which oversees the stadium, the must-meet benchmarks for Missouri games are on the low side for both attendance and ticket revenue. If more than 47,000 don’t snap up reasonably priced tickets and attend the games at War Memorial with a capacity of 54,000-plus, fans cannot legitimately complain about the schedule post-2024.

The standards in the contract reflect the UA’s willingness to negotiate and the message that those in charge in Fayetteville want the six-year experiment to succeed. Along those lines is the wiggle room built into the contract and the UA agreeing to a monetary hit for the sake of statewide unit:

—The minimum ticket revenue from Thanksgiving weekend game pales considering ticket revenue per SEC game in Fayetteville this year is likely to top $5 million. Ticket revenue from SEC games in Little Rock in 2013 and 2014 totaled less than $6 million.

“They purposefully end concurrently so that we can evaluate both the game in Dallas and the game here (Little Rock) at the same time and make the best decision for our program at that point in time,” athletics director Hunter Yuracheck said last week.

Between the agreement with Little Rock and the obligation in Arlington, pushback from Northwest Arkansas is inevitable. The “home” team designation vs. A&M occurs the same year that Arkansas plays Missouri in Little Rock, leaving only two SEC games in Fayetteville.

Admittedly, the 2019 schedule in Fayetteville is mundane with two SEC games, plus Portland State, Colorado State, San Jose State, and Western Kentucky. But, the Texas Longhorns play in Fayetteville in 2021 and Yurachek is pursuing another high-profile opponent for 2023.

Ideally, the electricity that was often palpable during Arkansas-LSU in Little Rock in late November would be duplicated vs. Missouri, but the onus is on Razorback fans to make that happen. Missouri does not travel particularly well and stakes were often high when Arkansas and LSU met in the season finale.

In contrast to Fayetteville’s seeming indifference about recent Little Rock games, the UA will even help promote the Red-White contests at War Memorial in 2020, 2022, and 2024. Those free scrimmages will have a different ambience — more family-first and carnival-like — but the message is unchanged: fans must show up or Razorback football and Little Rock will be divorced after 2024.