Before Rex Nelson opined about politics for the statewide daily, wrote about business, opined about politics some more and then spent a few years in the governor’s office trying to explain what Mike Huckabee was trying to say, he was a sports guy. Still is, actually. And I speak from experience in saying that once sports is in someone this deep, there’s no getting it out, no matter how many other directions you try to run.
So, a few months back, Nelson got to thinking, along with some other folks in the city, that a whole lot of sports and historic events were going to be happening at the end of August. Chiefly, Ray Winder Field would be seeing its final Arkansas Travelers games, while high school and college football were starting.
Even without the Ray Winder Field angle, it’s a great overlapping week that a sports nut anually just can’t resist.
Nelson convinced the city to get behind it with some promotion, and the week’s been dubbed “GameWeek in the Rock.” So, starting Sunday, Aug. 27, and culminating with the last game at Ray Winder Field at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3, there are sports events worthy of your attention, if not your presence.
For one, Barry Switzer, the former Oklahoma Sooner and Dallas Cowboy coach, is the first speaker this year at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday, Aug. 28. The club’s board, of which Nelson is a founding member (no shock there), is expecting a huge turnout at the Embassy Suites in West Little Rock starting at 11 a.m. Switzer, a captivating speaker, will start his talk around noon. You’d better e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the list. Membership this year for an impressive list of speakers is $40 for returning members and $45 for new members, and lunch is $15.
Benton and Bryant tangle in the Salt Bowl at War Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Aug. 29. Central Arkansas and Henderson State kick off the college season at the stadium on Thursday, Aug. 31, in the Capital City Classic. Friday, Sept. 1, marks the start for most of the state’s high school football teams. TV sets in this region will no doubt be tuned to ESPN on Saturday, Sept. 2, with Arkansas opens when Southern Cal at 7:45 p.m. in Fayetteville.
Meanwhile, traditionalists can shed a tear or three at Ray Winder Field all week, with the Travs giving away all sorts of gear to adults and kids. The last night game is Friday, Sept. 1. Special tickets have been printed up for the Sunday finale, while Saturday’s game is also under the sun, starting at 1 p.m. (since most Arkansans will be focused on football that night).
It’s a week that everyone, and not just sports fans, can get excited about. For more information, visit www.gameweekintherock.com.
CONCERT NOTE: Def Leppard and Journey are adding a third leg of their tour, bringing them to Alltel Arena on Monday, Oct. 30. Tickets go on sale Saturday, Sept. 23.