We noted that the University of Alabama last week drew 35,000 to its spring football game and recalled a time back in the early '70s when the University of Arkansas would do the same when it brought its game to Little Rock.
That's when college basketball in the state was weak and largely ignored - a lot like today. But though the Hogs can't bring spring football to Little Rock anymore, the Twisters can - the indoor variety, starting Saturday, April 3, at Alltel Arena.
Twister football has been a big hit - in their first year, 2000, the Twisters led Arena 2 in attendance and nearly filled Alltel to the rafters for every game. The frenetic pace, a 50-yard field and high scoring brought out both the sports fans and the curious.
Attendance has fallen off after four years, but the Twisters still are among the best in Arena 2 in fan support.
"We realize the newness has worn off, and we're looking at this year being kind of all or nothing with our promotions," Scotty Adams of the Twisters' front office said Tuesday at the team's media day.
Special events and appearances are planned for each home game, starting with pro wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin showing up April 3 at Alltel for the opener with San Diego at 7:05 p.m.
"I'd like to dress him out for a few plays at nose guard," said fourth-year Twisters coach Gary Anderson.
Anderson had last year's team on a roll as the season wound down, with the Twisters reaching the Arena 2 playoff semifinals, just a break or two from making the championship game. That team was led by veteran quarterback Ricky Hebert, who is listed on this year's roster but is sitting out because of personal problems.
The quarterback position has fallen to Kevin Williams, who previously was a receiver and back, but also filled in for Hebert at times. Williams was a prep phenom at Pine Bluff Dollarway, started out his college career at Fayetteville and finished at UAPB.
"I'll be in more of a leader role," said Williams, who brings a strong scrambling ability to the position. The Twisters mostly will need him to complete passes, the main way to move the ball indoors. At least on a team with a lot of new faces, he'll have three veteran receivers to throw to, including the sensational Lennie Johnson.
Pregame concerts starting at 5:45 p.m. include country star Tracy Byrd on April 17 and the Dove Award-winning Paul Coleman Trio on May 22. A dozen Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders will be on hand May 8. Outdoorsmen, NASCAR fans and Spider-Man lovers also have fun nights awaiting before the season ends July 31. Plus, beer lovers can enjoy $2 16-ounce drafts all season.
Call 975-5425 (975-KICK) for tickets or more information on the Twisters.