DATELINE MIRTHOLOGY — University of Arkansas trustees have approved expanding the use of the Chi Omega Greek Theater into an all-weather sports complex suitable for croquet, badminton and squash, the last using a glass-walled court on an elevator in the stage floor.
The proposal, bandied about by the nonprofit Razorback Foundation for nearly the entire 81 years the amphitheater has been in existence, was brought at the Jan. 27 meeting in Little Rock by longtime Trustee Crystal Britches, the Fayetteville philanthropist.
Although he invariably has supported Britches in all her projects, fellow Trustee and former U.S. Sen. David Pryor abstained on this project, estimated to take three semesters for construction and cost $16 million, a tenth of the expansion of Reynolds Razorback Stadium, plans for which also were tentatively approved, both on the Fayetteville flagship campus. A final vote on the stadium is to come.
The Fayetteville football stadium project will add 3,000 to 3,200 seats at its now open north end. Home games rarely approach sell-out status for its current 72,000 seats.
Britches in her motion said while a gorgeous landmark, the Greek Theater is never used outside of a lunch spot by at best a handful of students, faculty and staff. Hardier students had studied there up to a decade ago, but they found the bleached concrete bleachers (which can seat 2,750) cast an impossible glare on the screens of their electronics.
The annual sorority “Bid Day” does fill the stands. With the renovation, it can be a rain-or-shine event.
“I was horrified to learn that the Division of University Advancement was developing — under the table, per policy — a parking lot proposal for the acreage,” she said, “You should’ve seen the look on their faces when I told them the Greek was on the National Register of Historic Places.”