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Contact(s):Brenda Scisson

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stadium Re-Dedicated, Sculpture Introduced At War Memorial 60th Anniversary Celebration

LITTLE ROCK, AR. (Sept. 19, 2008)  War Memorial Stadium had a grand 60-year birthday celebration today with the introduction of Sturgis Veterans Plaza featuring a 25 foot "Stars & Stripes" sculpture on the stadium's west side.

The plaza and sculpture were 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 53,717-seated stadium was re-dedicated to Arkansas veterans who lost their lives in World War I and II (to whom the stadium was originally dedicated) and stadium officials also honored all Arkansans who serve in the Armed Services.

Remarks were provided by Governor Mike Beebe; Brigadier General William J. Johnson, Deputy Adjutant General, Arkansas National Guard; Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola; David Ross of Bank of America and Trustee of the Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust and Stadium Commission Chairman Gary Smith. The Arkansas Army National Guard 106th Army Band provided background music.

The sculpture's artist, Kathleen Caricof of Loveland, Colorado, was in attendance. 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.

Several officials from the Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust attended today?s ceremony, including its Arkansas Consultant Cindy Miller of Little Rock and David Ross of Dallas, Vice President of Bank of America and Senior Philanthropic Manager of the Sturgis Trust.

Ross said, "The Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable Trust is honored to be a part of the history and tradition of War Memorial Stadium. With the Sturgis Veterans Plaza, we are proud to honor past and present Arkansas men and women who have given service to this country." 

"At Bank of America we are entrusted with the charitable legacies of individuals such as Roy and Christine Sturgis. As a veteran of World War I, Roy Sturgis, we believe, would be proud of this new memorial to Arkansas veterans."

War Memorial Stadium Commission Chairman Gary Smith of Little Rock said the sculpture depicted 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 is located at the main entrance to the stadium's west side, on the corner of Fair Park and Stadium Drive. It serves as an entrance not only into the stadium, but to the entire War Memorial Park.

It sits on a granite circle that is 40 feet in diameter. In the center are five columns from which five granite stars -- each representing a branch of the military -- are hoisted into the air. The area surrounding the sculpture is landscaped to form a plaza-like area, now known as Sturgis Veterans Plaza. The sculpture is lit at night, establishing a grand, 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 five 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.


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