Hunts donate $5 million toward Razorback baseball facility

By: Matt Jones
Published: Tuesday, November 19, 2019
An artist's rendering shows the exterior of a proposed baseball operations center on the grounds of Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Arkansas Razorbacks
An artist's rendering shows the exterior of a proposed baseball operations center on the grounds of Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.

— The soon-to-be-constructed baseball operations building at the University of Arkansas will be named for the family of J.B. and Johnelle Hunt, pending approval by the UA Board of Trustees at its meeting this week in Little Rock.

The Hunt family donated $5 million to the project, according to a UA press release Tuesday. If approved, the building will be named the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Baseball Development Center and would become the second building on the UA campus named for the Hunts. In 2007, the UA opened a classroom building called the J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. Center for Academic Excellence.

J.B. and Johnelle Hunt were the founders of J.B. Hunt Transport, a Fortune 500 trucking and transport company headquartered in Lowell. J.B. Hunt died in 2006.

“The Hunt family legacy and commitment to the University of Arkansas is undeniable,” Razorback Foundation Executive Director Scott Varady said in a statement announcing the donation. “Their investment in our programs and student-athletes can be seen throughout campus and we are extremely grateful for their support.”

The Hunt donation is the second $5 million donation made toward the construction of the baseball facility that could cost as much as $27 million to build and is set to open in the spring of 2021.

In December 2018, the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation gave a $5 million donation toward the baseball center. The Walker name was added to the Razorbacks’ baseball stadium a month later.

Last week the Walker Foundation and the family of Mark Sutton gave matching $500,000 donations in exchange for the new building's lobby being named after former Arkansas coach Norm DeBriyn. Johnny Mike Walker, the executive director of the Walker Foundation, and Sutton, the former chief executive officer for UBS Americas, played for DeBriyn in the 1970s.

The baseball center will be approximately 49,000 square feet and will be constructed on the southwest side of Baum-Walker Stadium, in the right field corner. A groundbreaking for the building is expected sometime next month.

The building will include offices, training areas, a clubhouse, premium seating and other amenities. As part of the construction phase, a tunnel will be dug to connect the building to the first base dugout that will become the Razorbacks’ home dugout.

“I know that Coach Dave Van Horn, his staff and our entire team are excited for this spectacular new addition to our program,” UA Athletics Director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “We are grateful for the Hunts’ extraordinary investment in the lives of our student-athletes and the future of Razorback Baseball.”

UA trustees are scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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