Friday, February 17, 2017

War Memorial Stadium takeover approved by House

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 10:54 AM

WAR MEMORIAL: Moving to total state agency control.
  • WAR MEMORIAL: Moving to total state agency control.

By a vote of 87-1 with two voting present, the state House today approved the bill ending an independent War Memorial Stadium Commission and putting the stadium under control of the state Parks and Tourism Department.

There was no debate.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson backed this move so his signature is assured.

The immediate impact will be a sharp cut in general revenue funding for the stadium, by 50 percent, to $447,000 a year. Hutchinson and other advocates have argued the state agency can do a better job of dreaming up ways to increase revenue at the stadium, a must now that income from Razorback football games is at an end and only two games remain scheduled there, one Aug. 31 with lightly regarded Florida A&M and one game in 2018. The Fayetteville stadium has many more seats and many more high-dollar seats to raise money. It's been a struggle to fill the smaller Little Rock stadium.

Little Rock business people have labored mightily to keep the stadium viable. State money, hard won, made some improvements to the stadium and annual revenue contributions have allowed it to break even. Many are pessimistic that state control will produce better results. Significant support existed in the legislature to end any support for the stadium, because it is situated in Little Rock.

The governor will appoint a commission for the stadium, but it will be powerless and answer to the Parks and Tourism Department.

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