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Chancellor Gearhart Steps Down And Immediately Address Great Stadium Debate

No longer the leader of the university, Chancellor Gearhart apparently feels free to wade into what's likely the most contentious topic in all of Razorback fandom.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

In Arkansas it might be considered better manners to discuss religion and politics in mixed company than the Great Stadium Debate, but that didn't stop freshly retired University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart from discussing it somewhat.

In a new AP story reviewing the university's academic accomplishments under Gearhart, this little quote on athletics stuck out at the end of the article:

Unresolved as Gearhart exits is whether the university's football team will continue to play any games in Little Rock, where it has played at least one game per year since 1932. A current contract expires in 2018.

"We lose money when we play in Little Rock," Gearhart said. "Personally, I love playing in Little Rock ... but the university is located here. I'm glad it's not going to be my decision."

That's not exactly a groundbreaking quote as it's widely understood that War Memorial Stadium, with nearly 20,000 fewer seats, few luxury amenities, payments UA actually makes to play there, and loss of other game day-related revenue available in Fayetteville, cannot match what Razorback Stadium has to offer.

The quote is more newsworthy because we rarely get a glimpse of the GSD from high level people at UA. Jeff Long occasionally touches on the topic but usually only when there is news to report.

I do think this is simply the latest piece of evidence the university has no real intention of continuing to play a game in Little Rock beyond 2018 (if they don't buy their way out of the contract sooner). UA may, at least for appearances sake, make an offer that would resemble something similar to how most neutral site games are arranged, so that Arkansas would at least break even if not profit from the WMS games, but it's hard to imagine how War Memorial could make that work. Ticket prices for the Texas A&M game in Arlington are substantially higher than games in Arkansas, and the ability to sell all the luxury suites in the JerryDome add up to a nice profit for UA.

Much of War Memorial's Razorback future probably depends on how many attend these upcoming non-conference games in Little Rock, such as this year's game with Toledo. With no SEC games as part of the Little Rock season ticket package, it could be a smaller crowd than what we've seen in the past. I mean, we all agree the writing is on the wall, here, right?