Mayor Stodola plugs football at UALR | Arkansas Blog

Mayor Stodola plugs football at UALR


WAR MEMORIAL STADIUM: Might UALR take the field there some day? - WAR MEMORIAL STADIM
  • War Memorial Stadim
  • WAR MEMORIAL STADIUM: Might UALR take the field there some day?

Mayor Mark Stodola
has pitched his support behind a movement for college football at UALR, in part to provide another paying customer for War Memorial Stadium, likely soon to be shorn of even the one Razorback game it still hosts.

It's financial wishful thinking, not particularly surprising from a city with a pinched budget that likes to give its limited money away to subsidize wealthy people like the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. And higher education as a source of football financing? Not likely in the current state fiscal climate.

Stodola writes in his weekly newsletter about a student petition drive to bring football to Little Rock. Stodola cheers the "conversation."

Of course it would take significant financial resources to start up such an endeavor, but with the availability of a storied football stadium already in town and the possibility of another rallying cry for our university, I believe that the time is right for a serious look at whether it is feasible. The establishment of a football team would help boost student life and in turn, enrollment for UA-Little Rock, as well as provide a home for Arkansas student-athletes. It would also be a tremendous alumni attraction and would provide great rivalries immediately with ASU, UCA, and UAPB. As mayor, I certainly see this as a way to utilize War Memorial Stadium as a phenomenal state-owned asset in the city, particularly with the uncertainty surrounding the future of the contract with the Razorbacks. There are also definite economic advantages of being home to a college football team.

Funny that the mayor should mention Arkansas State University, for years now chasing athletic fame with ever higher pay for coaches, stadium expansions and the rest.

USA Today compiles statistics on athletic spendings by colleges. In 2015, ASU spent $29.2 million on athletics. The budget ran deeply in the red (unlike UA, which pays for itself with lucrative TV income and private giving). It required $4.5 million in student fees and $9.5 million in university money to balance its budget. That's $14 million.

Little Rock knows the story, but, without the major expense of football, doesn't run so deeply in the red. It spent $9.5 million in 2015. with $6.4 million coming from student fees and university money.

At UCA, $9.4 million of the $12.4 million it spends on sports comes from student fees and university money.

I'm sure Little Rock students and administration are ready to come up with millions to add football so the mayor could see some people in the seats at a stadium the state just — inexplicably — took over.

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