Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium
Home of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks
University of Arkansas’ original 13,500-seat University Stadium (its name until 1941 when it was changed to Razorback Stadium) was funded by the Works Progress Administration in 1938. Designed by Arkansas firm Thompson, Sanders and Ginocchio Architects (now Cromwell Architects Engineers) the Razorback Stadium was slowly expanded over the next sixty years bringing the capacity to 50,000, prior to its most recent major expansion from 1998-2001.
In 1998, Heery International, architect of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and a slew of major college football stadiums, was hired to update and expand the facility to its current capacity of 72,000 (apparently Eisenman Architects of University of Pheonix Stadium fame was also in running for the project). The $100m renovation took place over three years, funded primarily by private investors from Arkansas’ state capital Little Rock – naming rights went to Donald W. Reynolds in recognition of his $21m donation. Seemingly to appease the Little Rock-based investors, an agreement stipulates that the Razorbacks play their non-conference games three hours away from Fayetteville, at Little Rock’s 54,000-seat War Memorial Stadium. This season, two of the Razorbacks eight home games will be played at War Memorial. Perhaps as a result of the reduced games at the Razorback Stadium, in addition to increased seating the stadium upgrade was focused on adding “amenity-intensive elements”, such as suites and hospitality areas, to increase revenues and recruitment.
According to Ballparks.com, Arkansas’ stadium has the most luxury suites (132) and club seats (8,950) of any stadium in the Southeastern Conference – significant in a league with college football titans Alabama, Tennessee, and LSU all with stadiums 20,000 seat-capacity larger than Razorback. However, despite the abundance of private suites they seem well integrated with the stadium, stealthily tucked between tiers.
Razorback Stadium is enclosed on three sides, the east and west sidelines are two-tiered, while the highest parts of the stadium and the south endzone is three-tiers of seating. The north end is essentially open with the two-storey Frank Broyles Athletic Center and accompanying scoreboard / video screen fill this space.
Future plans for Razorback Stadium are for the addition of 5,000 seats on the north end as part of a larger, thirty-year athletic facility upgrade masterplan by the good folks at Populous. A good run at Razorback Stadium and a BCS Bowl victory by the Razorbacks would give this long-term plan some urgency and a welcome influx of funds.