Allison Family Gift "Transformative"

With a single check, AState alum Johnny Allison has created for Arkansas State a chance to change the perception of Red Wolf athletics.

Ok. That single check was BIG, five million dollars big.

While called a renovation or an upgrade to the press box, the reality is that the facility will now become a major revenue source for Arkansas State.

The seed planted with that $5 million check could easily grow into another $5 million to $7 million possibly more by 2021 as purchasers of the premium seating are being asked to commit to those seats over seven seasons.

Revenue from those new seats created by the Allison family gift will likely help fund the building of the Operations Center in the north end zone to house new offices, meeting rooms, weight facilities, training and physical rehab facilities along with a new locker room.

The announcement of the Centennial Expansion (the name honors stadium naming right’s holder Centennial Bank as well as this being the centennial season of AState football) has an impact that ripples through the AState community.

The most obvious ripple was when AD Terry Mohajir was asked when the projected would be completed and he answered, in time for the Missouri game. Even with that answer he was still asked to confirm that it meant the Red Wolves would not relocate the game.

Mohajir added that anyone who purchases a season ticket for this year, will be able to purchase those seats next season at the same price as long as they renew their tickets by the deadline.

Centennial Expansion will include renovated concession stands and restrooms for all patrons of the stadium not just those in premium seating.

The changes will dramatically alter the appearance of the stadium making it more in line with the schools AState recruits against and aspires to compete against.

Today we celebrate a moment in time that generations will remember,” said AState Chancellor Hudson. “We often use the word ‘transformative’ about Arkansas State, and Johnny Allison, his family and their gift are all the embodiment of the term. His generosity will forever change Centennial Bank Stadium and the eastern side of our campus.

“Being a destination university includes having vibrant student life, and the expanded stadium will improve the student experience at A-State. This investment in our future will not only enhance our football program, but our entire region through the economic impact of construction and growth in student pride.”

“This is a monumental occasion for Arkansas State University made possible by one of our most successful and recognizable alumni, Johnny Allison, and his family,” said A-State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir. “We’ve taken a major step today in our mission to strengthen our national brand and provide first-class facilities for our student-athletes and fans. This is another testament to the outstanding leadership and vision of our chancellor, Dr. Tim Hudson, and system president, Dr. Chuck Welch.”

Almost two years ago Liberty Bank pledged $5 million for the naming rights to ASU Stadium. Allison’s Home BancShares acquired Liberty Bank and elected to pay off the remaining balance of the naming rights agreement when the sale closed this past winter. Between Allison’s personal gift and the payment of the naming rights Allison has been involved in AState athletics receiving nearly $9 million in less than a year.

The entire project, including the press box and concourse, will cover 39,673 square feet. The Centennial Expansion project will include a complete overhaul to the stadium press box, expanding it to 35,741 square feet. The face of the stadium will be redesigned to include 42 loge boxes, 20 suites and 300 club seats in its revenue-generating areas. The suites will average 433 square feet each.

Not only will depth be added to the press box, it will span from approximately the 15-to-15 yard lines, allowing for enhanced media, coaching, broadcasting, control booth, visiting athletics director suite, and camera areas.

Allison played on the 1968 A-State football team, and he later served on the ASU Board of Trustees from 1979-84, serving as chairman in 1983. He was named an Arkansas State University Distinguished Alumni in 1998.

Asked why he made the gift, Allison answered that there is something to be said for giving back. He noted that he was from the area, he attended AState, played football at AState and graduated AState with a grade point he described as 2.0000001.