Little Rock’s venerable War Memorial Stadium is celebrating 75 years of being open in September.
The first game at the stadium was played on Sept. 18, 1948 when the Razorbacks faced Abilene Christian in a 40-6 victory to start the season. Dedicating the stadium was Lonoke’s Maurice “Footsie” Britt a former Hog football player and a Medal of Honor winner for his heroic service in World War II.
The stadium cost $1.2 million to build, or about $15 million in today’s dollars and it seated a gargantuan crowd of 31,075 people.
At the time, Fayetteville’s on-campus stadium sat 18,500. Up 5,000 from its original capacity of 13,500 when it was built in 1938.
War Memorial stayed larger than Razorback Stadium over the decades
In 1967, War Memorial increased to 53,727 while Razorback Stadium was at 38,000 at the same time. An expansion in Fayetteville followed but it was to 42,678.
War Memorial Also had lights for night games while Razorback Stadium didn’t add them until the 1980s. As television games increased, lights became a necessity in Fayetteville.
Razorback Stadium didn’t pass War Memorial in capacity until 2001, when it went to 72,000 from its previous total of 50,019. Now, Razorback Stadium is at 76,212, while War Memorial can hold 54,120.
Arkansas, at War Memorial, is 152-61-4 for a winning percentage of 71.0.
The Razorbacks have played a total of 1,307 games in 129 seasons with an all-time record of 736-531-40.
Of course, it hasn’t just been the Hogs at War Memorial, with other in-state schools like Arkansas State, UCA and UAPB having played there over the years. The NFL has also played a game there, way back in 1949, when the Philadelphia Eagles, with Clyde “Smackover” Scott on the squad. They faced the Los Angeles Rams.
The stadium has seen hundreds of high school games over the years along with state championships every December.
Maybe the best high school game played there was the 2005 state championship between Springdale and Little Rock Central.
Springdale was led by coach Gus Malzahn and featured the “Springdale 5” led by quarterback Mitch Mustain and future NFL receiver Damian Williams.
War Memorial has a quirky place in the hearts of most Razorback fans as some of the most memorable games in program history have been played there.
There’s also more to come as Arkansas State and Arkansas will finally meet up on the football field in 2026 in a game that will be played at War Memorial.
All bets are off.
1948: War Memorial Stadium opens with an original seating capacity of 31,000. Formally dedicated by former Arkansas Razorback and Medal of Honor recipient Maurice “Footsie” Britt, who dedicated the stadium to "the memory of her native sons and daughters who have given so much that we might have our freedom." Following the dedication ceremony, the first game at the stadium commenced, where the Arkansas Razorbacks defeated Abilene Christian 40–6.
1949: War Memorial Stadium hosts an NFL game, when the Philadelphia Eagles played the Los Angeles Rams. Former Arkansas Razorback Clyde “Smackover” Scott played in the game for the Eagles.
1949: President Harry S. Truman spoke at the stadium in June 1949
1967: Stadium capacity is increased to 53,727.
1991: The Rev. Billy Graham hosts an event at War Memorial Stadium drawing 270,000 attendees over the course of a week and Bob Hope’s “Hope across America” tour draws 49,000 fans.
1995: Billy Joel and Elton John perform to a sell-out crowd of 41,274, grossing over $1.6 million.
1998: The stadium is listed on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places.
2000 – Neighboring high schools Benton and Bryant begin playing each other at “The Salt Bowl,” considered the state’s biggest and most competitive rivalry.
2002: The “Miracle on Markham” cements War Memorial Stadium’s sports legacy and gives the Razorbacks a last-second 21-20 victory against LSU.
2005: The 5A State Football Championship Game sets the record for highest attendance for any high school title game when Springdale faced Little Rock Central.
2006-2012: War Memorial Stadium hosts the Delta Classic, an annual football game between the UAPB and other HBCUs.
2008: What has since become known as the Miracle on Markham II, the Razorbacks rallied to beat LSU, to secure one of the most exciting wins in Arkansas football history.
2010: The press box, once voted the best in the country, is torn down, rebuilt and reopened. Among those honored in the press box were sports columnists, the late Orville Henry of the Arkansas Gazette, Wally Hall of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Harry King, the dean of Arkansas’s sportswriters, a North Little Rock High School grad who worked for decades at the Associated Press, Stephens Media and finally the North Little Rock Times.
2010: Stadium capacity is expanded to 54,120.
2016: The Little Rock Rangers soccer team names War Memorial Stadium as its home.
2017: Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism begins management of War Memorial Stadium and big concerts return to War Memorial Stadium with Guns N’ Roses playing to a crowd of 25,000.
2020 to present: The stadium serves as host of the junior college national championship game.
2021: The Razorbacks played UAPB, marking their first game against an in-state opponent since 1944. The Hogs won, 45-3.
2023: War Memorial Stadium celebrates 75 years.
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