There is a lot on Hunter Yurachek’s plate, but one thing near the top of his to-do list is to sell the naming rights to the Arkansas football stadium.
Since it was originally expanded in 2001, Razorback Stadium — which now seats 76,000 — has been named after media mogul Donald W. Reynolds. However, the UA’s current deal is set to expire next summer and it must find a new partner because the Reynolds Foundation dissolved in 2017.
Contrary to rumors on social media, Arkansas is not close to securing a new deal. In fact, the Arkansas athletics director told 103.7 The Buzz that the process has only just begun.
“We’re just in the preliminary stages of putting together our materials and getting ready to go out and make some presentations to families and entities within the state of Arkansas for that,” Yurachek told “The Zone” co-hosts Justin Acri and Wess Moore. “The naming rights expire June 30, 2024 — doesn’t mean that we have to have a name on there July 1, 2024, but we’re starting to head down that path and investigate who may have an interest in that.”
Yurachek revealed that based on a valuation study, the UA could get anywhere from $3.5 to $4 million annually over 10-15 years from a corporation for the naming rights, while finding a private entity – like another foundation – or family might result in even more revenue.
That’s a significant amount of money and the primary reason it is important for him to find a partner before next season.
“As we move forward and strategize how to generate revenue, that’s more revenue that’s guaranteed over the next 10-15 years,” Yurachek said. “It’s a significant push for us to get that done.”
Currently, only two SEC schools have sold their stadium’s naming rights to corporate partners – Kentucky in 2017 (Kroger Field) and Vanderbilt last August (FirstBank Stadium). While some Razorback fans may assume that the sponsor would be Arkansas-based, that won’t necessarily be the case. Consider Kroger is Cincinnati, Ohio-based, for instance, and Donald W. Reynolds himself was a Texas native who grew up in Oklahoma City and graduated from Mizzou.
Impact on the Basketball Program
Even though he hasn’t found a naming rights partner yet, Hunter Yurachek has already determined where a good chunk of that revenue would be spent — and it’s not even for the program that plays in the stadium.
Instead of going toward football expenses, the basketball team under its current head coach Eric Musselman would be the main benefactor.
“Much of that money will be used toward a renovation of Bud Walton Arena,” Yurachek said. “That’s kind of the anchor…to launch our fundraising campaign for Bud Walton Arena. While it would be tied to the name of the football stadium, the resources that are generated from that would go toward the renovation of Bud Walton Arena.”
Since the UA Board of Trustees approved contracts for the architect and general contractor being used for those renovations in the summer, Yurachek and his staff have met with them three times and the goal is to present a specific plan to the board in March.
At the bare minimum, there are several “deferred maintenance” things that need to be taken care of. Just off the top of his head, Yurachek mentioned the venue needs a new roof, HVAC system, electrical system, plumbing, tile on the concourse, bathroom stalls and urinals, seats and — perhaps most importantly — playing surface.
“That’s a 31-year-old court that has been sanded as many times as it can be sanded down,” Yurachek said.
All of those things have an estimated price tag of $45 to $50 million and, as Yurachek put it, that’s without “anything that’s terribly sexy.”
The so-called “sexy” stuff is a bit more controversial. Yurachek again mentioned his desire for more premium seating options, which would require reducing the capacity — an idea that has met some criticism, including from former quarterback and basketball player Matt Jones.
Arkansas Football Scheduling Note
Considering he was in town for the Little Rock Touchdown Club, Hunter Yurachek was also asked about the future of Arkansas football games at both AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
He confirmed that next year will be the final season the Razorbacks face Texas A&M at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. That is when the contract ends and it will not be renewed, allowing the series to return to campus sites.
The future of games in the state’s capital city is much more up in the air. Arkansas is set to play in-state foes UAPB (2024) and Arkansas State (2025) at War Memorial Stadium the next two years, but nothing beyond that is on the schedule.
“We’re just kind of in a holding pattern with our schedule until the SEC determines are we going to have an eight- or nine-game schedule?” Yurachek said. “Is there going to be a Power Five requirement in addition to that eight- or nine-game conference schedule? Then we’ll work on our scheduling for ’26 and beyond once we have that determination.”
Yurachek added that a decision on the eight- or nine-game slate would happen sometime before the 2024 SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., which begin in late May.
Asked his preference, the Arkansas AD said he was fine with either one, as long as the nine-game option doesn’t also include the current requirement to play a non-conference game against another Power Five program.
“Eight- or nine-game SEC schedule works for us,” Yurachek said, “but a nine-game schedule with a Power Five requirement, I don’t know that the University of Arkansas football program is built to have 10 Power Five games and then two additional games for your 12-game schedule.”
SEC Football Stadia
Current Name: Neyland Stadium
Previous Name: Shields-Watkins Field (after W.S. Shields, a University of Tennessee trustee and president of a local bank)
Year Opened: 1921
School: Texas A&M
Current Name: Kyle Field
Previous Name: None (named after Edwin J. Kyle, the athletic council president and the dean of agriculture)
Year Opened: 1929
Current Name: Tiger Stadium
Previous Name: None, but also known as “Death Valley”
Year Opened: 1924
Current Name: Bryant-Denny Stadium
Previous Name: George Hutchenson Denny Stadium (Bear Bryant is an Arkansas native and almost-Razorback who ranks alongside Nick Saban as the greatest coach in the college game)
Year Opened: 1929
Current Name: Jordan-Hare Stadium
Previous Name: Auburn Stadium and then Clifford Hare Stadium (Hare was a member of Auburn’s first football team and Ralph Jordan is the program’s all-time winningest coach)
Year Opened: 1939
Current Name: Sanford Stadium
Previous Name: None but Herty Field was Bulldogs’ previous home
Year Opened: 1929
Current Name: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Previous Name: Florida Field (Griffin was a prominent booster of the Gators after making a fortune in the citrus industry)
Year Opened: 1930
School: South Carolina
Current Name: Williams-Brice Stadium
Previous Name: Carolina Municipal Stadium ($2.5 million was left by the estate of Mrs. Martha Williams Brice in the late 1960s).
Year Opened: 1934
Current Name: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium
Previous Name: First known as University Stadium, then Bailey Stadium after Arkansas Governor Carl Bailey before being renamed Razorback Stadium in 1941
Year Opened: 1938
School: Ole Miss
Current Name: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Previous Name: Hemingway Stadium after Judge William Hemingway, chairman of the University’s committee on athletes. (John Vaught was the Rebels’ all-time most successful coach.)
Year Opened: 1915
Current Name: Faurot Field
Previous Name: Memorial Stadium (Faurot was a former Mizzou coach and AD)
Year Opened: 1926
School: Mississippi State
Current Name: Davis Wade Stadium
Previous Name: Scott Stadium (Scott was an Olympic sprinter and one of the first football stars for the Bulldogs. In 2002, donor Floyd Davis Wade, helped fund a $30 million expansion project.)
Year Opened: 1914
Current Name: Kroger Field
Previous Name: Stoll Field; Commonwealth Stadium
Year Opened: 1973
Capacity: 61,000 (reduced in 2015 from a 1999 capacity of 67,600)
Current Name: FirstBank Stadium
Previous Name: Dudley Field; Vanderbilt Stadium (Dr. William Dudle was the dean of Vandy’s medical college and football supporter.)
Year Opened: 1922
Listen to the full Hunter Yurachek interview with 103.7 The Buzz here:
Arkansas Football vs LSU
After Arkansas’ 31-34 loss to LSU on Saturday night, Arkansas football Sam Pittman coach shared some of his thoughts. Here are a couple excerpts from the post-game press conference:
On red zone struggles:
It hurt us. We got down there twice and came away with six points. Both of them I think we had first down… One of them I think we had on the five. The other one I think was on the eight. We weren’t able to score and came away with three. When we faked the field goal down there I thought we’d score too. I think we actually kicked a further field goal than what we faked. But I really thought we needed something to spark us at that point, and I thought it would but it didn’t work out.”
On Arkansas defensive line’s struggles to pressure Jayden Daniels in the second half:
I didn’t see them do a whole lot different in protections. They ran the ball more in the second half than they did the first half and that might have took some of that rush off us too, you know. But they ran the ball well. They kicked us pretty hard there on the first drive. The guy went for about 40 on a run on us and I think their ability to run the ball slowed our pass rush down a little bit. And Coach [Brad] Davis over there, he’s a good football coach and they did a good job adjusting so we couldn’t get pressure and their backs blocked well too.
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