Simmons Bank announced Friday (Oct. 22) while it continues to complete negotiations on a title sponsorship deal with the city of Memphis, it has chosen Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium as the new name of the stadium. Earlier this month, negotiations to be the title sponsor of Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium began between the city and Simmons.
Simmons Bank also said it has initiated a partnership with the War Memorial Stadium Commission and the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism to acquire the naming rights to the field at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Upon completion of the agreement, the field at War Memorial Stadium will be renamed Simmons Bank Field.
Terms of the potential deals have not been released.
War Memorial Stadium was built in 1948 and serves as a tribute to Arkansans who gave their lives in service to their country during World War I and World War II.
“Our partnership with the War Memorial Stadium Commission and Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, provides the opportunity to honor our veterans and provide upgrades to this historic stadium.” said George Makris, Jr. chairman and CEO of Simmons Bank. “It is an honor for Simmons Bank to be a part of War Memorial Stadium’s next chapter.”
“War Memorial Stadium has a rich history as a sports and entertainment venue that honors our state’s veterans,” said Stacy Hurst, director of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “With the support of Simmons Bank, we will be able to make sure that the stadium remains a state treasure for many years to come.”
In Memphis, Makris said the name change from “Memorial” to “Liberty” was supported by the community.
“Although history would suggest the use of the original name, Memorial Stadium, the incredible support of Memphians in favor of using the word ‘Liberty’ in the name of the stadium has resulted in a new name for the stadium – Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium,” Makris said. “The feedback we received, especially from veterans, was that ‘Liberty’ more broadly recognized the service and sacrifice of our veterans by remembering why they served so faithfully – to preserve our liberty.”
Opened in 1965 as Memphis Memorial Stadium, the stadium serves as a tribute to the veterans of World War I, World War II and the Korean War. It was renamed Liberty Bowl Stadium in 1975, the stadium is the home to the University of Memphis football team, the Southern Heritage Classic and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Simmons also announced an $110,000 commitment to the Woody Williams Foundation, a charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness to honor, recognize and serve Gold Star Families members and their relatives.
Hershel “Woody” Williams served in the Battle of Iwo Jima with the 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division. Now 98 years old, Williams is the sole surviving Marine from World War II to wear the Congressional Medal of Honor. To date, Williams and his foundation are responsible for establishing 88 Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments across the United States, with more than 79 additional monuments underway, covering all 50 states and Guam.