Little Rock stadium command hub a big hit, state official says

By: Mike Jones
Published: Thursday, January 16, 2020
Arkansas kicks off to Missouri as fans cheer on the Hogs during the third quarter of the Razorbacks' 24-14 loss to Missouri on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Photo by Thomas Metthe
Arkansas kicks off to Missouri as fans cheer on the Hogs during the third quarter of the Razorbacks' 24-14 loss to Missouri on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

BENTONVILLE -- The director of Arkansas State Parks said he was pleased with how a new command center operated during football games at War Memorial Stadium late last year.

Grady Spann's presentation Wednesday afternoon was part of the Arkansas State Parks Committee meeting, a two-day State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission gathering in Bentonville.

Commission meeting

The Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission meets at 8:30 a.m. today at the Thaden Fieldhouse hanger, 2505 S.W. I St., Suite 100, Bentonville.

Source: Staff report.

War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock hosted the Arkansas-Missouri game Nov. 29, and Arkansas Activities Association state championship games Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 13-14. The parks department manages the stadium, Spann said.

Missouri defeated Arkansas 24-14 to end the Razorbacks' season at 2-10. About 34,000 attended the game the day after Thanksgiving, Spann said. The stadium capacity is just over 54,000.

Spann showed photographs from the game and some images of inside the new stadium command center. The center has four large monitors that can check 57 different cameras placed throughout the stadium, Spann said.

"It is one of the best things we could have done for visitor safety," Spann said of the command center. "It allows us to react to the right place at the right time if needed."

Spann credited Gov. Asa Hutchinson for funding $340,000 in stadium security improvements. The State Parks Commission also used a $50,000 grant for the improvements, Spann said.

The commission also formed a four-person quick reaction team consisting of three park rangers and an emergency services person to deal with any problems that might occur during a game. Spann said he couldn't think of any incidents where the group was called into action during the football games.

The high school championship football games drew a total of about 60,000 fans, Spann said.

"It was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun," Spann said. "There were a lot of good games."

The committee also heard various updates including storm damage over the weekend at Lake Chicot State Park in far southeast Arkansas. Winds knocked down between 35 and 50 trees, and damaged five cabins, said Mike Wilson, State Parks manager of operations. Electricity was also knocked out in the lake area, but service was returned Tuesday.

The park has 122 campsites, but only Area A with 30-35 sites is open, Wilson said. No one was injured in the weekend storms, he said.

Wilson estimated the damage at $100,000. At 20 miles long, Lake Chicot is the largest oxbow lake in North America, according to the State Parks website. It is near the Mississippi River.

Metro on 01/16/2020

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