Rex Nelson: The Birth and Growth of the Little Rock Touchdown Club

UPDATE from the Little Rock Touchdown Club:

Next week’s Little Rock Touchdown Club Kick Off Luncheon with Bret Bielema, Wednesday, Aug. 21, is SOLD OUT. That is the earliest that has ever happened in the 10 year history of the Club.

The Marriott ballroom seats 700. Congratulations on being a part of such a great club and start to the 2013 season!


The following is an excerpt from Rex Nelson’s Southern Fried Blog on the birth and growth of the Little Rock Touchdown Club.


Rex Nelson Archive PageIt’s hard to believe it has been nine years since I sat down for lunch with David Bazzel at Ciao in downtown Little Rock and saw a dream begin to come to life. Over pasta and salad that June day, the idea of a football club for Little Rock was first discussed.

That wasn’t the stated purpose of the luncheon. I was working for Gov. Mike Huckabee at the time, and David had some ideas he wanted to run past me in his role as chairman of a physical fitness commission.

The date was Tuesday, June 8, 2004 (yes, I keep my old calendars).

I happened to mention the fact that Little Rock was one of the largest cities in the football-crazed South without a football club. In cities such as Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta and Houston, such clubs had established their reputations years ago as the place for football fans to gather on a weekly basis during the season.

“I’ve been thinking the same thing,” David replied. “Do you want to see if we can establish such a group?”

As he typically does with ideas he likes, David took it and ran with it.

On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2004, 17 people who were interested in being involved in such a club met for lunch at what was then the Little Rock Hilton on University Avenue. The Little Rock Touchdown Club was born.

Less than three weeks later, the club held its first formal meeting at the Hilton and then met every Monday for lunch until December. Much to our amazement, the club was an instant hit. We had figured it would take a few seasons to catch on. By the end of the 2004 football season, almost 200 people were showing up on a weekly basis, and the media coverage was outstanding.

We outgrew the Hilton after one year, moving the next season to the Embassy Suites in west Little Rock.

On Wednesday, Aug. 21, the 10th season of programs will begin. More than 500 people will head to the downtown Marriott to hear from Bret Bielema, the new head football coach at the University of Arkansas.

To continue reading, please click here.

To see the complete lineup of speakers for the 2013 Little Rock Touchdown schedule, please click here.

Tags: , , ,