Most things don’t end with a bang. They end with a whimper.
Florida A&M didn’t bring its band and it appeared for a bit the team didn’t bother either as they and the Arkansas Razorbacks faced off on a rainy Thursday night at War Memorial.
Arkansas won, 49-7, in a game best described as lackluster.
The victory was as expected, but the real number that mattered wasn’t the final score, it was the attendance.
The official number was 36,055 but even that seemed wildly optimistic as right before kickoff some of the press box wags guessed it was under 30,000.
Remember, War Memorial has an official capacity of 54,120.
So, all those empty seats matter.
The remnants of Hurricane Harvey didn’t help. Nor did the game being broadcast on the SEC Network which allowed fans to lay on their couches and enjoy the action from cushioned comfort.
A Thursday night kickoff wasn’t a plus either. Work and school on Friday is a powerful incentive to stay away.
So, yes, you had a confluence of things that all contributed to keep the people away.
But does that matter?
The other number of note is 1, as in the number of games left at War Memorial per the contract the University of Arkansas has with the stadium.
Next year’s game is an SEC matchup against Vanderbilt.
Now the Commodores are used to small crowds. The quirky stadium in Nashville is the smallest in the conference at 39,790 and sellouts there are about as rare as winning seasons at Vandy.
But is Arkansas ready for yet another sub-40,000 crowd?
A Little Rock crowd that may not be as large as the occasional high school football game in the state?
And, if not, the next number that matters is what it would it cost to buyout the Vanderbilt game and move it to Fayetteville.
Where it should probably be played anyway.
The Little Rock tradition of games can keep going with basketball and baseball and maybe some golf out at the Alotian.
But not football. The pool of games is too small and as long as Arkansas has the ongoing commitment to keep Texas A&M at Jerry World, the seven remaining games should be on The Hill.
But about basketball and baseball and the rest.
Do better, Arkansas.
Do the fans in the central part of the state better than Troy or whatever low-major nobody you can find. Maybe get a Memphis for what could be a classic in hoops or the run and fun of Florida Gulf Coast as North Little Rock’s Verizon Arena gets some Dunk City for a game that would be a late-December hit for ESPN.
There’s no point in bringing up that school in Jonesboro either.
So, for now, so long War Memorial. Thanks for the memories. Maybe see you again for a high school state championship.