It has a long name and a much longer tradition that has been a rite of autumn for students, alumni, and overall fans of the University of Arkansas football team for decades. The 2013 season marks the 75th year of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, a place that opened in 1938 with less than 14,000 seats only to blossom into the nearly 80,000-seat venue planted in an idyllic setting on the western side of campus in one of the more picturesque places in the city of Fayetteville.
Although many transformations have taken place during those 75 years -- rows of air-conditioned luxury boxes, an annex in the southern end zone full red seats and a scoreboard the size of a rectangular whale, to name a few -- the enthusiasm and pageantry that have become synonymous with The Natural State and its flagship school has remained the same.
A day in and around the stadium promises to be a festive occasion, often starting several hours before kickoff at the epicenter of tailgating activities: a portable colony of white tents located directly north of the stadium affectionately known as “The Pit.” Here and everywhere, fans are decked out in white and various shades of red, ready to “call those Hogs” at a moment’s notice.
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The stadium features several types of food (ranging from $3 to $10), along with an assortment of Pepsi products, with the more exotic offerings being sold on the lower concourses. For instance, at a stand on the east side called "Fan Vs. Food" some of the most popular items are a smoked pork sandwich ($9) and a Tusk Turkey Leg ($8) -- named after the school's live mascot that has a bus/van-like contraption parked near the northeast corner of the field. Other options include the Woo Pig Sundae ($9), which consists of layers of barbecued pork and mashed potatoes topped with bacon and cheese and served in a sundae cup.
Given that the temperature approached 100 degrees on this day, most fans opted for the $4 bottles of water -- as opposed to eating hot food. Furthermore, usually outside water bottles are not allowed in the stadium, but an exception was made to help fans stay hydrated among such sweltering conditions.
One of the biggest pluses that the stadium has going for it are the vistas of the surrounding landscape -- especially those of the Boston Mountains from its southern side. On a clear day, undulating patterns of greenery expand for what seems like miles and miles.
It should be advised that those who prefer sitting in the sun for day games should opt for seats on the east side of stadium, which is where one will find Championship Alley and large illustrated displays of the program's glory years. Those on the west are treated to shadows much earlier in the afternoon (as well as a site of the Razorback logo right-side-up). I received lots of sun when I sat on bleacher seats in the upper deck near the southeast corner of the field. Those who sit at the top of the stadium should be warned at how loud the speakers can be -- especially compared to when sitting in the lower bowl. Be prepared to talk loudly when communicating to those around you.
The Razorbacks enter the field from the north through a tunnel jutting out of the Broyles Athletic Center that is painted as a snout. From further back, one can see that the entire building is the visage of one really peeved pig. Above the center sits a massive scoreboard, the biggest in the SEC and fourth largest in college football. It measures out to a little less than 6,300 square feet. In spite of the gargantuan video display, though, the down-and-distance and other basic football statistics are very small and hard to read by comparison. When the Hogs score, fireworks are launched off of the center's roof for a nice touch.
Fayetteville is simply a great college town. The U of A is just a short walk -- downhill -- to Dickson Street, the city's main artery that has a long list of bars, restaurants and other entertainment options before or after the game. The streets are safe, but very hilly. The biggest issue visitors will have is finding parking.
Some of the more popular hangouts include the Hog Haus Brewing Company, Grub's Bar & Grille, Brewski's, and West End. Live music lovers should check out George's Majestic Lounge, or Willy D's Piano Bar. Further away from campus, fans can find two locations of Foghorn's, which serves up wings and sports of all kinds. The latter location is right across the street from the school's baseball venue, Baum Stadium.
The one downside to the areas around the campus is a relative lack of nearby hotels. The only choice for staying in downtown Fayetteville is at the Chancellor Hotel. Those who want to stay on campus should check out The Inn at Carnall Hall. Near Baum Stadium sits a Staybridge Suites, with other chains nearby, such as Candlewood Suites.
It's hard to talk about the patrons without first mentioning the beloved "Hog Call" -- the ritual where Arkansas fans raise their arms and move their fingers in unison while unleashing a high-pitched call. It is quite a site and definitely something to experience if you've never seen it before. As one fan from nearby Fort Smith, Arkansas said: "You've got to do it. It seems corny at first, but you're in the stadium and everyone is doing it. It's great."
The fans are certainly knowledgeable and passionate, but the stadium seems to only reach sellout status when major SEC foes are in town. Compared to the atmosphere down at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, where the Hogs play two games a year, the crowd could even be described as subdued overall -- of course, the scorching sun might have played a role with that. Some fans let their ardent nature interfere with overall awareness of those around them by standing for a majority of the game "because that's what happens at SEC schools" according to one guy -- so if you happen to sit behind one of these zealous and inconsiderate souls, good luck.
The stadium is located in a beautiful part of the city, nestled next to campus amid a large collection of hills. While this is great for aesthetics, it's horrible for logistics. As is the case in all of downtown Fayetteville, parking is a serious issue. I paid $3 for a lot that was located off of Dickson Street next to the Walton Arts Center, but had a one-mile, 20-plus-minute walk that was mostly uphill to reach the stadium. Some fans opt for a shuttle service for $5. Others park a mile away near Baum Stadium. The bottom line is to not expect to park close unless you're in the vehicle of a season ticket holder.
The stadium concourses are wide enough, but negative points are earned due to poorly marked signs for the staircase to access the upper deck. To an outsider, it can be confusing. Furthermore, there are lengthy lines for the elevator. The venue does have ample spots for handicapped guests to watch the game throughout, especially at the bottom of the upper concourse. Bathrooms are what one would expect, but one fan noted that a recent renovation to create more women's bathrooms resulted in taking out a few of the urinals out of the men's rooms -- and therefore creating occasional lines. Those who want to bring items in the stadium should be sure to check out the lengthy list of prohibited items, which includes most bags (besides small purses).
Given my circumstances (sizzling temperature, upper deck bleacher seats next to fans who wanted to stand the whole game, loud speakers), I think an argument can be made that the $45 I paid for my ticket was a bit too much. That same price can get a ticket closer to the lower bowl, which is definitely the route to go, if available. There were no reasonably priced items at the concession stand, so eating before the game would be advised for those looking to save some money.
One extra point is awarded for the view of the Boston Mountains from the south side of the stadium on a clear day.
One point is given for the stadium staff. On this hot day, there were plenty of First Aid workers who were nearby to treat any possibly dehydrated fans. When leaving the stadium, the staff goes out of their way to thank you for coming out to the game.
One is awarded for the option of trying to catch the action for free on top of the slope of hills situated near the northeast and northwest corners of the end zone. The view is less than desirable, but it's still a great place to soak in the atmosphere and see some of the game without forking over $45 or more.
Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium is home to the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. The stadium is amazing in its stature and I knew as soon as I stepped foot on the campus that the only happening in Fayetteville on game day is the GAME.
The stadium was built in 1938 and originally had 2 different titles: University Stadium (1938) and Bailey Stadium (1938-1941) and in 1941 it earned the name of Razorback Stadium. It holds a capacity of 76,000 which is more than enough on game day. I was actually in the bathroom during a defensive 3rd down and that place was literally shaking. Everybody gets into it and that is one of the many great things about college football.
The stadium is located about 200 miles northwest of Little Rock and is in the small community of Fayetteville. Fayetteville feels very small until you see the University and all of the athletic facilities. It is one of the best-looking campuses in SEC in my opinion and once you go, you'll see what I mean. The campus is especially gorgeous in the fall because of the environment changing all around you. With a city population of only 73,372, the amount of people that show up on game day more than exceeds the normal population.
430 W Dickson St
Fayetteville, AR 72701