Central Arkansas will be the host of the National Junior College Athletic Association Football Championship for the next three years.
State and local tourism officials joined Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. for the announcement Friday at War Memorial Stadium, which will host the games. Hutchinson said the opportunity is now possible thanks to relaxed coronavirus restrictions.
“We’re wide open. We’re doing business, we’re vaccinated, we’re increasing that every day, our cases are down, and we’re going to be in business for a long time. We never shut down, we’re going to have our crowds, we’re planning on that, and so we’re ready for this,” Hutchinson said.
Little Rock will host two championship games this year, with one on June 5 and the other in the fall, then two other games in 2022 and 2023. Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Gretchen Hall says the city was one of 12 in the running to host the championship.
“It is showcasing the fact that we’re seeing a return to business, which is really exciting after the year we’ve had… it’s a multi-year deal with a national championship game that will be nationally televised, and so that’s going to help raise the awareness of Little Rock as a great travel destination and a great sports destination,” Hall said. “The local impact of having these teams and patrons and fans on-site for four championship games is going to be great for our community.”
Hall said there has been no discussion on whether recent controversial abortion and LGBTQ legislation passed by state lawmakers this year could discourage potential sponsors from hosting sporting events in Little Rock, as has been seen in other areas of the country.