UA Board Grants Initial OK for Football Center Bond Issue

by Mark Carter  on Friday, Jan. 28, 2011 3:39 pm  

A northwest aerial rendering by Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects of the new University of Arkansas football center.

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees on Friday approved an intent to issue bonds for a $35 million football operations center on the Fayetteville campus.

The board met on the campus of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. Friday's approval paved the way for the UA Athletic Department to seek final, formal approval for the bond issue at the April board meeting.

The $35 million figure includes an estimated $24 million-$28 million for the center with $7 million set aside for construction of a raised outdoor practice field built over a parking deck that would serve the entire campus. The new center would be located south of Reynolds Razorback Stadium off of Razorback Road.

Click here to see a slideshow of renderings of what the center will look like.

UA Athletic Director Jeff Long said the 10-year financing plan would enable the athletic department to get the project started while continuing to raise private funds to pay for it.

The UA already has $12.5 million for the project. The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation awarded a $10 million matching grant, and another the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation gave $2.5 million earlier this week.

Both Long and David Gearhart, chancellor of the Fayetteville campus, stressed that the football operations center is vital for the Razorback program, noting its impact on recruiting in the competitive world of Southeastern Conference football.

Under Coach Bobby Petrino, the Razorbacks reached levels of success not seen in more than 30 years. The Hogs finished the regular season 10-2 and were an at-large Bowl Championship Series selection to the Sugar Bowl. Overall, the team finished the year ranked 12th in the country.

"This facility meets a number of needs for our program," Long said. "We have $12 million in cash before we even start the project. This is the right time to move forward with this project."

Long was optimistic the bond issue could be paid off in less than 10 years.

Gearhart said the project would commence "very soon." Documents submitted to the board indicated a start time of Fall 2011 and a completion date of Summer 2013.

"Our program has grown in prestige, we have a first-class coach, and all of Arkansas is excited," Gearhart said.



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