Simmons Bank of Pine Bluff’s sponsorship deal with War Memorial Stadium is worth $425,000 over five years, money not tied to specific upgrades but for general maintenance, upkeep and improvements.
Records released to Arkansas Business show the deal between the bank and the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, which manages the historic stadium in Little Rock, was signed April 27. It includes the one-time replacement of interior and exterior signage, paid for by Simmons, and the application of the Simmons name and logo on the turf, now known as Simmons Bank Field.
Simmons signage was already visible at the 54,120-seat stadium last month.
Under the agreement, Simmons receives use of a 16-seat suite at the stadium. It also receives use of stadium facilities for its own events 12 times a year.
The multi-purpose stadium, built in 1948, has an annual budget of $1.58 million. The deal with Simmons gives it an extra $85,000 per year.
Naming rights to the field became available after AT&T’s 10-year, $1.8 million sponsorship deal expired in 2020.
“War Memorial Stadium is an important pillar of Little Rock’s history honoring our veterans,” George Makris Jr., Simmons Bank CEO, said. “Simmons Bank is proud to be a partner during the stadium’s next chapter as we continue to support the brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving our country.”
War Memorial is one of two stadiums now sponsored by Simmons. The bank in February signed a deal for naming rights to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, now known as Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. The agreement is worth $6.82 million over 10 years, the Commercial Appeal reported. It also gives Simmons the exclusive option to extend the agreement for two consecutive five-year periods.
Both stadiums are older, but the 57-year-old Liberty Bowl offers a brighter spotlight for the Simmons brand with regularly televised University of Memphis football games. And that spotlight could grow as the university spends up to $200 million on stadium upgrades in the coming years and looks to jump to a Power Five conference.
War Memorial stadium hosts one University of Arkansas football game per year, along with multiple high school football games, concerts and home games for the semi-pro Little Rock Rangers soccer team. The stadium has undergone $2.96 million in upgrades in recent years to satisfy the requirements of its contract with the University of Arkansas to host athletic events. The upgrades include enhanced Wi-Fi, locker room renovations, a new turf and new speakers.
War Memorial officials are eyeing additional funds in fiscal 2023 for structural improvements and repairs. Parks, Heritage and Tourism spokesman Jeff LeMaster said the stadium is seeking a $1.5 million grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council.
A study in 2018 found that War Memorial drew about 273,000 attendees to 225 events each year.