Jeff Reed: Decisions, Decisions – Terry Mohajir Has a Big One To Make


AD Terry Mohajir Mulls Missouri-Game Choices

Jeff Reed Author PageIn recent weeks, in certain circles, the status of an Arkansas State football game has created a lot of conversation.

And it is not just any ball game.

The big question is this: Will Sept. 12, 2015 be the biggest home game in Arkansas State Red Wolves’ football history?

What reported more than a year ago has become such a hot topic it has been manna for radio shows in the northeast corner of the state.

The bottom line is about money. And isn’t it always about money?

On 9.12.15 the Arkansas State Red Wolves are set to host the Missouri Tigers in what will no doubt be the biggest game in Jonesboro history. A member of the Southeastern Conference coming to Craighead County (we note that it is not the first time – Ole Miss and Eli Manning came to town in 2001).

The game is the second game of a home-and-home deal between the Red Wolves and Mizzou. A-State visited Columbia, Mo., last fall, and lost 41-19 to the team that would shock most and become champions of Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division.

Arkansas State would likely set records for attendance and income from all sources for the night. The impact on the community would also be big. Lodging and restaurants could expect to benefit from the more than 30,000 who would likely attend the contest.

But just when everything seems so nice and simple here comes Eve and her apples. And yes we did mean apples.

The Jonesboro game resulted in a bidding war between Kansas City and St. Louis for the contest, and made A-State athletic director Terry Mohajir think twice, while putting him in a tough position.

And before you start thinking why Little Rock can’t be in play for this game, don’t even go there. While the two Missouri cities have come in with mega offers, the best Little Rock can do is offer War Memorial Stadium to the Red Wolves for $35,000 rent.

Maybe there is a lesson here to be learned by Little Rock and its desire to host future Division I-A (FBS) football games.

Speculation is the offer from St. Louis, spearheaded by the St. Louis Cardinals, is in the $1.5 million range. Once Mohajir told Kansas City if the game was not going to be in Jonesboro it would be in St. Louis, the cattle town came back with what was believed to be in the $2 million range. The bidder in KC is the NFL’s Chiefs.

“It has been very competitive,’’ said Mohajir recently on Jonesboro radio show The Drive. “It is competitive between the Chiefs and the Cardinals, you have the NFL vs. [major league] baseball. I told Kansas City if we moved, we would probably do it in St Louis. Since then, they have given me a couple of offers that exceed the St. Louis offer, but I just feel like 6.5 hours to Kansas City – it is a special place to me; it is where I grew up – but it is just not good for our fans. Just couldn’t do it.”

So is St. Louis better? It is a place that is dear to a lot of Arkansans because of the Cardinals’ strong roots in the area. It is a place many are familiar with because they have gone there for games.

So Mohajir told KC thanks but no thanks. If the game is moved it will be played in St. Louis. And if it is played in St. Louis it will be in Busch Stadium.

“We have a couple of things going,” Mohajir told the radio show. “If we can get one piece here in place, it is something I can’t talk about now, but it will all come together eventually. Hopefully, within the next month-and-half, we will have it figured it out.”

There is still a chance that Mizzou could buy out the game for $600,000. But it is getting late in the process and while the Red Wolves are not among the Big 5 conference teams, of late they have been among the best in the Group of Five leagues. Strength of schedule is about to become a big issue in college football.

“They are program not like Alabama,” he said. “Paying 600K is not an easy thing. I don’t think they will buy [the game] out.”

That would leave it all in Mohajir’s corner. And for someone who has gained rock star status in his less than 2 years in Jonesboro, it could be hot under the lights.

On one hand you have a program in Arkansas State where $1.5 million to play a game in St. Louis is a needed payday. That much money can go a long way for an athletic director trying to increase revenue and improve facilities.

But there are many in the fanbase who feel like 2015 could be the year for the budding Red Wolves’ program. You have a team with a lot of standout players who will be juniors and seniors and having Missouri at home could be a chance for a landmark victory.

One thing to keep in mind is all of the improvements made to Centennial Bank Stadium will be complete in the fall of 2015. The old ball yard will not look the same. And Setp. 12, 2015 would  be a perfect night to showcase it all.


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