FAYETTEVILLE – Over the years, the University of Arkansas has done a lot to enhance the fan experience.
There is no doubt that Razorback Stadium has evolved from a high school stadium on steroids to one of the greatest college atmospheres in college football.
Fayetteville itself has grown from a sleepy hamlet suited for its perceived purpose of looking at colorful leaves into a fun growing region balanced between offering opportunities for visiting families and the college students who spurred the growth.
While there's so much that puts the game day experience at the top of the list for the people of Arkansas to experience, there's one element that is the Arkansas secondary of the bunch. That one thing holding it back from being the elite of the elite.
For those who haven't been to Fayetteville for a game in a while, parking consists of paying churches, elementary schools, fraternities and random home owners $80 to park a couple of miles away from the stadium before trudging through hills to the stadium.
Even on cool days, fans arrive exhausted, drenched in sweat and too broke to grab a bottle of water in hopes of relief after the endless journey. It brings new meaning to the idea of Soggy Bottom Boys.
Add in the traffic issues that come with a town whose topography and long-term planning didn't allow flexibility needed to account for growth in stadium capacity from 13,500 to 80,000, and you have not only a giant, irritated puss-filled pimple on the beautiful canvas that is the game day experience, you have a reason to not attend when things aren't all sunshine and roses with the team.
This is why before the university asks the people of Arkansas to shell out several million to squeeze in 300 new luxury box seats for the richest of the rich, it needs to start a campaign of building parking decks on the university owned lots for the sake of Bobby in Hermitage who cut back on the amount of food in his lunch bucket when he dragged his saw-briar torn body into the woods at 4 a.m. every morning so he could take his kids to one Razorback game in their lifetime.
Or for sister Sadie Mae who got tickets for her 70th birthday from her family after they pooled together money so she can see her favorite team just once before she moves on to watch Razorback games from the Lord's box seats.
Fayetteville isn't built to handle this many fans. Yes, those of us who grew up in the poor areas of the state know the university is driven to serve big donors and is not terribly concerned about the Bobbys and Sadie Maes of the fan base, so it's time to stop thinking of this segment of the fan base as Bobby and Sadie Mae.
Instead, let's think of them and Ulysses S Grant and Andrew Jackson. In other words, money, money, money, money, money.
Jeff with the 10-car front yard 12 blocks over is pocketing $800 that should be yours Arkansas officials. Pi Tappa Kegga, located 1.5 miles uphill both ways is collecting Twinkie and burger money for a year by parking 30 cars on a Saturday.
That's $2,400 that could go toward a secret Pepsi machine in your office storage closet.
It's a win-win. You can kick the swim team out for a weekend, drain the pool and swim in all the cash generated in additional parking money seven to eight weekends a year.
Heck, set it up as donations for a special NIL/head coach buyout fund. There are no rules in NCAA football anymore so no need to worry your compliance director with whether it would be acceptable.
Just think of the quarterbacks, safety and linemen you could purchase. Imagine a life where the next Chad Morris to wander through the door could be swiftly shuffled off to whatever high school program he intends to disappoint afterward without financial worry.
Happy fans, elite athletes, secret Pepsi machines, skinny dipping Scrooge McDuck style and a golden boot specifically designed punt the next guy who gets curb stomped by North Texas – 0that sounds like Hog Heaven.
Make it happen before sister Sadie Mae heads off to the real Heaven.
Your fans will thank you for it.