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City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421
Contact(s):Charlie Staggs, Stadium Manager
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
War Memorial Stadium to be Re-Dedicated and Sculpture Introduced As Part of 60th Anniversary Celebration
War Memorial Stadium officials will re-dedicate the stadium to Arkansans who have served or are serving our country and honor them with a newly-constructed Sturgis Veterans Plaza, featuring a 25-foot patriotic sculpture on the stadium's west side. The dedication will take place Friday, September 19, as part of the stadium's 60th anniversary.
The re-dedication ceremony will feature Governor Mike Beebe, Brigadier General William J. Johnson, Deputy Adjutant General, Arkansas National Guard, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola and Stadium Commission Chairman Gary Smith. The public is invited.
Anniversary activities will also be part of the Arkansas vs. Louisiana-Monroe football game on Saturday, September 6. The Razorback band will salute the stadium in its pre-game show; Broadway star and Arkansas native Lawrence Hamilton will sing the National Anthem, followed by a military plane fly-over.
A small group of Razorback football players who played in the first War Memorial game in 1948 will serve as honorary co-captains of the Sept. 6 game. Former Razorback football star Quinn Grovey, who had many memorable moments at War Memorial, will do the coin toss.
Video highlights of some of War Memorial Stadium?s greatest moments will be played on the scoreboard video screens during pre-game and some of the time-outs. These highlights are being produced by KATV, Channel 7, as a public service to the Stadium for its 60th anniversary.
Sturgis Veterans Plaza and its "Stars and Stripes" sculpture will be at the corner of Fair Park and Stadium Drive. The project is created by the War Memorial Stadium Improvement Trust and funding for the $500,000 project was provided by the Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust.
The artist is Kathleen Caricof of Loveland, Colorado.
A member of the National Sculptors' Guild, Caricof won best of show at the 2007 Sculpture at the River Market Invitational in Little Rock. She has completed placements for the University of Denver, the cities of Long Beach and Burbank and Cerritos, California, Central Missouri State University, Pfieffer and Hamilton Publishers in Duluth, MN, and for numerous other organizations.
War Memorial Stadium Commission Chairman Gary Smith of Little Rock said the sculpture depicts the stadium?s legacy.
"I can think of no better way to celebrate a 60-year birthday of a stadium than by honoring our past and providing a structure for generation after generation of Arkansans to enjoy in the future," Smith concluded.
The sculpture will be located at the main entrance to the stadium's west side, on the corner of Fair Park and Stadium Drive. It will sit on a granite circle that is 40 feet in diameter. In the center will be five columns from which five granite stars - each representing a branch of the military -- are hoisted into the air. The area surrounding the sculpture will be landscaped to form a plaza-like area that will be called Sturgis Veterans Plaza. The sculpture will be lit at night, establishing a patriotic entrance into the stadium area.
War Memorial Stadium was dedicated on September 18, 1948, when the Arkansas Razorbacks defeated Abilene Christian 40-6. Governor-designate Sid McMath and Mrs. Sid McMath, as well as Gov. and Mrs. Ben Laney, were in the stands along with some 27,000 football fans.
The stadium has undergone over $8 million in renovations and additions over the past eight years. They include the remodeling of its concourse, repairing structural problems of the old façade, adding new concession stands (many with video screens), adding a new artificial turf, adding two video screen scoreboards, the mid-field placement of the stadium's new logo, new lights and poles, sandblasting and repainting the stadium's exterior, painting the seats in patriotic colors, and remodeling the visitor's dressing room.
Today's stadium has a capacity of 53,727. When it opened 60 years ago, its capacity was 31,000.
In addition to Smith, other War Memorial Stadium Commissioners include Brenda Scisson, Kevin Crass, Donald Cook and Nancy Monroe, all of Little Rock, Charlie Holt of Stuttgart, Perry Henley of Hope and Dorance Damron of Fort Smith. Commissioners are appointed by the governor and serve seven-year terms. Charlie Staggs is general manager of War Memorial Stadium.
The Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Education Trust operates in memory of Roy and Christine Sturgis and has provided support to many educational, charitable and non-profit endeavors in the state.