Sunday, September 25, 2016

NWA voice: Opposition to stadium expansion

Posted By on Sun, Sep 25, 2016 at 8:31 AM

STADIUM EXPANSION: Letter writer suggests an alternative to project.
  • STADIUM EXPANSION: Letter writer suggests an alternative to project.

Several Northwest Arkansas correspondents wrote to call my attention to a letter to the editor in today's Northwest Arkansas edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette voicing objections to the $160 million ($216 million counting interest) expansion of Razorback Stadium.

It's a done deal, but it still bugs this letter writer, who worries about 20 years of debt payments, even if solely athletic money is pledged. "Loyal fans" might wonder when ticket prices will increase next, she writes. There's no "reasonable justification for such an obscene amount of money being spent."

Noted, too, is the "recent outlandish bash" given by the university to start its billion-dollar fund campaign. (Side note: The morning newspaper contained lavish society page coverage, with lots of photos, of many in attendance at last week's $450,000 gala. You'll remember that the UA declined my Freedom of Information Act request for names of invitees and also wouldn't discuss how it made up that guest list, but allowed a society reporter to roam freely with camera at the event. Perhaps she had to obtain releases before pressing her shutter button) Editorial comment on this: Looking stupid and dishonest on this one, UA PR department.

The letter praises Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz for trying to "stem the tide of spending by replacing the development officer responsible for this grand idea." That would be the booted Chris "Brother Honky" Wyrick, reportedly still desirous of moving back into the UA power structure. Some day, the underlying complaints about his management that led to his departure will be another official UA secret put out in the open along with fat-cat dinner guests.

But, to continue on the stadium: the letter writer has some ideas, other than a stadium expansion,  on which to spend the millions from the university's lucrative TV contract that allow the big project.

* Reduce ticket prices, a "bit of a reward" for long loyal fans.

* Contribute money to help hold tuition down.

* "Help support the underpaid faculty who are critical in providing a quality education."

* Solve the campus' "horrific" parking problems.

"The stadium is used six, maybe seven times a year. If it ain't broke don't fix it!" the letter writer implores.

The author: Patsy Ferritor. It so happens she's wife of Dan Ferritor, who just completed a second stint as chancellor of the campus. (As my wife tells people all the time, don't blame her for my opinions.)

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