The previous press box at War Memorial Stadium was built in 1967 and, at that time, it was voted the number one press box in the United States, according to stadium manager Charlie Staggs. The facilities were even rated fifth best in the SEC in the early 1990s, but those days are long gone.
"It was time," says Staggs. "It just wasn't large enough. The little booths we had to add in took places out of the athletic director's booth and we just didn't have enough room for everything we needed."
But that's all changed now. After a $7.3 million renovation, the press box at the Little Rock home of the Arkansas Razorbacks is ready to roll. Three separate levels house not only members of the press, but the visiting and home-team athletic directors, coach's wives, Hogs backers and stadium commissioners.
Marketing and event manager Cathy Hooker says seating is not only functional, but comfortable.
"There's more stadium seating on the second and third floor, so that's huge," she says. "Also, it's got a real lounge kind of a feel. We've got concessions, so the people that are sitting in those seats have a menu and they can just put a check by what they want, hold the card up and the wait staff comes by. We've got a liquor license now so there are two bars. It's a whole different experience when you come and the windows open so when you're here you're going to get that in-the-crowd feeling. But, it's air conditioned, there's staff here, it just doesn't compare."
"The first level is the club level," Staggs says. "There's 396 seats and barstool seats there. The general public can buy that. The club seats are $300 per game, and $200 for the barstools. To be able to buy tickets, they have to be Broyles-Matthews scholarship donors."
The press level has seats for 114 print journalists, a television booth, the Paul Eels and Jim Elder radio booth, a public address booth and separate spaces for visiting and Razorbacks coaches and coordinators.
The press box overlooks a brand new, bright green, red and white field which was installed in the off-season.
"This is just going to give everybody a better experience," Staggs says. "We're really pleased with how everything turned out."