New Hog Center gets $2.5 million grant
FAYETTEVILLE - The Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation has made a $2.5 million grant to help fund the new University of Arkansas Football Center, it was announced by Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long on Wednesday.
"The Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation has stepped forward once again to improve our program and benefit our student-athletes," Long said. "The incredible impact that they have had on our program is remarkable! The Walkers have been a part of almost every facility improvement we have undertaken over the years. This generous grant will help provide vital funding for the football center while serving to inspire others to step forward to help us meet the challenge issued by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation."
The Walker Charitable Foundation and the Walker Family have been long-time benefactors of the University of Arkansas and Razorback Athletics. They are the namesakes of the Walker Family Training Center, which includes the Willard and Pat Walker Pavilion and the Razorbacks' spectacular 18,000 square-foot weight room facility. The Walkers made the lead gift to initiate the construction of Baum Stadium, a venue consistently ranked as one of the top college baseball facilities in the nation. The Walkers also made a gift for the construction of Bud Walton Arena which includes the Willard and Pat Walker Entry.
In addition to their support of Razorback Athletics, the Walkers have made signature gifts to the College of Business' Willard J. Walker Hall, the Pat Walker Student Health Center and the Fowler House. In 2009, the Walker Charitable Foundation made a significant donation for need based academic scholarships at the University of Arkansas.
"We are proud to partner with Razorback Athletics to help construct a new football center that will enhance the overall experience for thousands of student-athletes at the University of Arkansas," Walker Charitable Foundation Executive Director Debbie Walker said. "The Walker Charitable Foundation is confident that under the continued leadership of Athletic Director Jeff Long and Head Football Coach Bobby Petrino, the Master Plan will be accomplished and the long-term vision of the Razorback program will be fulfilled. The Walker Family and the Charitable Foundation have enjoyed a long association with the University of Arkansas and Razorback Athletics. We look forward to maintaining that relationship as we work together to support the University's mission and foster future academic and athletic success."
Plans for the football center include construction of a new locker room, team meeting rooms, athletic training room, equipment room, a student-athlete lounge and study area, coaches' offices, a recruiting reception area and a football museum celebrating the tradition of Razorback Football. The proposed football center would be constructed immediately south of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium adjacent to the Walker Family Training Center. Football practice fields currently at that location would be re-located to the south side of the Walker Family Training Center.
With the $2.5 million grant from the Walker Charitable Foundation, more than $15.2 million in private donations has been pledged for the football center. Completion of the entire football center project includes estimated costs of up to $35 million.
"We are pleased with the progress we have made in the initial fund raising efforts for the football center," Long said. "The Walker Charitable Foundation grant combined with gifts from various other supporters has put us in a position to continue with the process. We are thankful to those who have already made an investment in the lives of our student-athletes and the future success of our program. As we continue to raise private support for the project, we will request approval from the Board of Trustees for a financing plan that will enable us to move project forward as private gift pledges are fulfilled over a longer period of time."