Stadium debate history

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - 15 years ago it was called the Great Stadium Debate. This time around, athletic director Jeff Long says it was not a debate but a conversation.

Taking one game a year out of central Arkansas has played out much differently than it did in the past. Maybe there was no debate this time because nobody even knew there was a discussion going on. But 15 years ago, the plan for more games in Fayetteville was anything but a secret.

In April of 1999 the Democrat-Gazette called it the "UA's Tug of War" as both power brokers and the public were divided in a fight over where to call the Hogs on game day.

Governor Huckabee penned a letter arguing that moving football games out of central Arkansas would cause the university to "...lose some of its most faithful and generous donors" and run the risk of "...alienating many supporters."

One of those donors, Warren Stephens, wrote a letter to Frank Broyles.

"I am convinced that moving games, even just one, will cause a serious division in our state..."

Broyles' response?

"We can only hope your prediction about the backlash to our program is wrong or is short lived." He also wrote about "...the real economic problems associated with two stadiums."

Three days after an overtime loss at War Memorial, there is no statement from the Governor. There are no letters fired off by major donors. There's just the reality that every time the original contract is re-worked and extended, War Memorial Stadium loses an annual game.

So what happens after 2018?

"These guys...they're trying to work together," says long time sportswriter Harry King with Arkansas News Bureau. "I got confidence they're going to do something."

War Memorial has always been able to give up a game to get a contract extension. But that bargaining chip is now gone. Future leverage could come from lawmakers. In 1999, there were bills filed seeking to mandate Hog games in Little Rock.