Dudley E. Dawson is a reporter for Hawgs Illustrated. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Yurachek sizes up scheduling, ticket sales and new amenities
Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek is shown during a football game against Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Fayetteville.
FORT SMITH There is no truth to the rumor that the Razorbacks will release their 2040 football schedule later this week, but Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek does admit he is working ahead quite a bit these days.
He addressed the issue Tuesday evening at a gathering on the #OneRazorback Road Show.
“We have got a requirement in the SEC to schedule a Power 5 game every season and many schools are scheduling those games out 10-15 years,” Yurachek said. “There is a limited number of those games because many of the Power 5 conferences play nine conference games, so you really have to do that much further in advance than I am even comfortable with to make sure I am taking care of the University of Arkansas.
“So the opportunity to play a Utah, an Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Texas in the future, those are great games for our program.”
Arkansas announced Tuesday it had a extended a two-game series with Oklahoma State to four games with dates now scheduled in 2024 (Stillwater), 2027 (Fayetteville), 2032 (Stillwater) and 2033 (Fayetteville).
“The Oklahoma State game is a great game for us,” Yurachek said. “Their fans can come to Fayetteville, our fans can go to Stillwater. That makes a great deal of regional sense for us from that standpoint.”
The Razorback also have some marquee home-and-home series scheduled with Notre Dame (2020 and 2025), BYU (2022 and 2023), Utah (2026 and 2028) and Memphis (2025 and 2026) with Arkansas traveling in the first game of each series.
There are home games with Texas and Rice in 2021 and one in 2023 with Florida International, currently coached by Butch Davis, a former Razorback.
The Razorbacks should be announcing their final 2022 nonconference foe soon to go along with home games against Missouri State and Liberty, and a road game at BYU.
“I think we are pretty close, but we may have just not announced them,” Yurachek said. “But without having those schedule grids in front of me, I am not for sure. I think we are pretty close to closing it out, though.”
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Yurachek admitted that tickets sales are what you might think coming off of a 2-10 season.
“Tickets sales reflect us being 2-10 last year, candidly,” Yurachek said. “We are down a little bit, but we are doing some things around the game day atmosphere.
“We announced Hogtown, where we are taking Maple Street from Razorback Road and Stadium. We are going to have a live band, a video wall with college games, a beer garden. We are going to have food trucks, games for the kids and then the team is going to walk through there as part of the Hog Walk.
“We want the game to be a true entertainment so that when fans come that first game, they’ll experience that, experience some of the new things that are in our stadium such as expanded Wi-Fi, some of the augmented reality things we are going to do on the video board and try to make it a special gameday experience that people want to be a part of that.”
Yurachek is very aware that college programs are in a battle with living rooms for football fans.
“Our attention spans collectively are not very long and we have to really create an entertainment value in and around your football game to get people to come into town.
“It is not an inexpensive thing to get people to come into your town for a football game. It is not an inexpensive endeavor for someone that is not from Northwest Arkansas when you have to drive across the state, get a hotel room that has a two-night minimum, eat at restaurants and tailgate and things of that nature. We have got to make sure there is a value there.”
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Yurachek got a chance to look over Arkansas’ new grass surface at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Monday.
“I walked across it yesterday morning,” Yurachek said. “It doesn’t move when you walk across it. It's a great addition to that stadium. We talk about being The Natural State, but it is really cool.”
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