It is time to pull the plug on Razorbacks games at War Memorial.
It isn’t because of the fans, who didn’t really show up, or the university or the lack of recruiting visits or any of the other reasons generally cited.
No, it is because of the incompetence of state government.
War Memorial Stadium is part of the Arkansas State Parks system. It isn’t independent, as it was previously, nor does it answer to Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott.
The person ultimately in charge is Gov. Sarah Sanders. She found the time to have outfit changes and, reportedly, worked hard on her suite’s liquor order, but what she didn’t do is manage the state government she was elected to lead.
What happened Saturday was just inexcusable.
A game already moved up to beat the heat shouldn’t run out of water. But, the stadium did. You couldn’t bring your own water in, as full water bottles were tossed at the elaborate bottleneck of a security checkpoint.
You could bring in empty bottles, but then you had to find a refill station or a bathroom tap, and assuming it worked, the water didn’t come scalding hot.
You could stand in line, at a pitifully understaffed concession stand, for over an hour, and still not end up with any relief.
That’s just failure.
State Parks said it wasn’t.
In a statement, Shea Lewis, the agency’s interim head, said, “like any large-scale event, issues did arise, but the department’s command center alerted each one appropriately and staff addressed those issues in real time.”
I don’t know Lewis, but this is what we call, in the writing world, a lie.
Well-hydrated people don’t leave at halftime because they can’t get any water.
That was not an issue addressed in “real time.”
Nobody cares about the sausage making that goes into media coverage, but as a person who has covered Razorback games at War Memorial going back to the late ‘90s, Saturday’s experience was the worst in 25 years.
It was so bad, it was almost impressive. Like, almost an act of deliberate self-sabotage.
As it stands now, there’s only one Razorbacks game left for War Memorial. That’s Arkansas State in 2025.
It absolutely should not be played in Little Rock.
Will either school pull the plug?
Arkansas State has dreamed of playing the Razorbacks since the school in Jonesboro started football.
Something Arkansas’s athletic administration always denied.
Depending on schedule alignments in the soon to be larger SEC, Arkansas might have to do some rearranging, especially if the league goes to nine conference games.
That might be the only way out, as the political pressure that will be exerted on Fayetteville’s leadership and also the system’s leadership in Little Rock will be immense and intense.
Pulling the plug will take real courage, and it will also be the right thing to do.
Turns out, 75 years was enough.
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