Trustees approve name change to Razorbacks' baseball stadium

By: Matt Jones
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2019
A shot of the crowd at Baum Stadium for the Razorbacks' first exhibition of the fall against Wichita State.
Photo by Andy Shupe
A shot of the crowd at Baum Stadium for the Razorbacks' first exhibition of the fall against Wichita State.

— The University of Arkansas' baseball stadium is getting a name change.

UA trustees approved a recommendation Thursday to change the name of Baum Stadium to Baum-Walker Stadium. The trustees' buildings and grounds committee approved the proposal from UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz and UA System President Donald Bobbitt on Wednesday, and the full board of 10 trustees accepted the committee's recommendation without opposition Thursday.

Trustees are meeting this week at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

The name change comes less than two months after the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation pledged a $5 million lead gift toward the construction of a 40,000-square-foot operations center on the stadium grounds. The center could cost up to $25 million and is expected to be completed sometime in 2021.

In an interview with WholeHogSports.com on Tuesday, UA athletics director Hunter Yurachek said the Walker Foundation's $5 million donation was understood to be for naming rights to the stadium, pending approval of the trustees.

Johnny Mike Walker, the son of the late Willard and Pat Walker, was a letterman on the Razorbacks' baseball team in 1975 and has been one of the program's primary benefactors.

The Walker family also donated $1 million toward the construction of the stadium in 1994 and $1 million toward a 2007 renovation.

Baum Stadium opened in 1996 and was named for the family of Charlie Baum, who gave a series of lead financial contributions in the early '90s that totaled $1 million toward the stadium's construction.

Baum and Willard Walker were early business partners of Sam Walton in what would become Walmart. According to The Walmart Museum, Walker became store manager of the second Walton's 5&10 store, located in Fayetteville, in 1952 and Baum replaced him three years later.

Charlie Baum died in 1992, Willard Walker died in 2003 and Pat Walker died in 2016.

The field at the stadium is named for the late George Cole, a former Arkansas athletics director and football coach, and the namesake of the Razorbacks' old baseball park that was replaced in 1996. The official name of the Razorbacks' stadium is now Baum-Walker Stadium at George Cole Field.

Arkansas, ranked No. 12 nationally, is scheduled to open the 2019 season at the facility on Feb. 15 with the first game in a three-game series against Eastern Illinois.

Emily Walkenhorst in Little Rock contributed

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