The University of Arkansas at Little Rock said it plans to conduct a feasibility study on whether or not to add a football program and a marching band.
The school had a football team in the 1940’s and 1950’s, but disbanded in 1955.
UALR Chancellor Andrew Rogerson and Athletic Director Chasse Conque said they have fielded questions about bringing back a football program since last September. This spring, a group of students presented the chancellor with a petition bearing 1,000 signatures in favor of a football program.
“Since that time, I’ve heard from many other students, alumni, community members, and business leaders who have expressed their interest in a Division I football program in greater Little Rock,” Rogerson said. “As a scientist, I have a high regard for data, so conducting an objective study seems like the right approach to determine if a football program and marching band would be a wise and meaningful addition to the university and our community.”
The study will be a collaboration of UALR, the City of Little Rock, and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. A request for proposal (RFP) process will seek to hire a firm to conduct the study, with the City of Little Rock, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, and UALR paying equal parts of the study cost. The university will use private funds from the Athletic Department for its share of the expense, which hasn’t been determined.
Conque said the feasibility study, which is expected to take seven months to complete, will examine every aspect of starting a football program, including initial and annual costs, staffing, playing venue, facility construction, and economic and student enrollment impact. The study would put exact figures on both a start-up and annual cost for Little Rock football, according to the school.
“We’ll learn a lot through this study, and I am anxious to see the data,” said Conque. “The interest from our students and other stakeholders in the community is evidence that we are in the midst of exciting times for Little Rock Trojan athletics.”
War Memorial Stadium, which has been folded into the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism oversight, would be a logical beneficiary if UALR were to restart its football program.
“If the university determines through this feasibility study that a football program is a worthwhile pursuit, then War Memorial Stadium is a natural, ideal home for the Trojans,” said Parks and Tourism director Kane Webb. “The timing of this is good, too, as the stadium is currently undergoing an outside study of its own to help us best plan for the future. We will let the data drive the decision, but the potential of UA Little Rock football is certainly worth taking a hard look at.”
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola added, “The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a vital and critical educational component of our city, and I believe bringing football back would be yet another opportunity for our citizens, students, and alumni to rally behind our university. The availability of War Memorial Stadium is a natural asset. However, we want to make sure that the economic and community potential that many of us perceive with a football and marching band program actually plays out on paper.”
UALR has been in Division I athletics since the late 1970’s and is a member of the Sun Belt Conference. According to UALR, when it was known as Little Rock Junior College, the Trojans fielded a successful football team. The college had many winning football seasons, including a 25-19 victory over Santa Ana in the 1949 Junior Rose Bowl Game, claiming the national championship. The Trojans also played in the Little Sugar Bowl in 1948 and captured the Mississippi Valley Conference championship in 1954.