Simmons Bank Arena
Simmons Bank Arena (formerly known as the Verizon Arena and Alltel Arena) is an 18,000-seat multi-purpose arena in North Little Rock, Arkansas, directly across the Arkansas River from downtown Little Rock. The arena opened in October 1999. It is Little Rock's main entertainment venue.
|Former names||Verizon Arena (2009-2019) Alltel Arena (1999–2009)|
|Location||1 Verizon Arena Way|
North Little Rock, Arkansas 72114
|Public transit|| Metro Streetcar|
at 120 Main Street (Verizon Plaza)
|Owner||Pulaski County Multi-Purpose Civic Center Facilities Board|
|Operator||Pulaski County Multi-Purpose Civic Center Facilities Board|
Arena Football: 16,000
|Broke ground||August 22, 1997|
|Opened||October 2, 1999|
|Construction cost||$80 million|
($120 million in 2018 dollars)
|Architect||Civic Center Design Team (CCDT): |
Burt Taggart & Associates, Architects/Engineers,
The Wilcox Group,
Garver & Garver Engineering and Rosser International of Atlanta
|Structural engineer||Geiger Engineers PC|
|Arkansas–Little Rock Trojans (NCAA) (1999–2005)|
Arkansas Riverblades (ECHL) (1999–2003)
Arkansas Twisters (AF2) (2000–2009)
Arkansas RimRockers (NBA D-League) (2004–2007)
Arkansas Diamonds (IFL) (2010)
The Arkansas–Little Rock Trojans played home games at the arena from the time when the arena opened until the team moved in 2005 to a new arena, the Jack Stephens Center, on the school's campus in Little Rock. The Arkansas RiverBlades, a defunct ice hockey team of the ECHL, the Arkansas RimRockers, a defunct minor league basketball team of the NBA Development League, and the Arkansas Diamonds, a defunct Indoor Football League team, also played at the arena. The arena is also used for other events, including concerts, rodeos, auto racing, professional wrestling, and trade shows and conventions.
On August 1, 1995, Pulaski County, Arkansas, voters approved a one-year, one-cent sales tax for the purpose of building a multi-purpose arena, expanding the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, and making renovations to the Main Street bridge between Little Rock and North Little Rock. $20 million of the sales tax proceeds went toward the Convention Center expansion, with the remainder used to build the arena.
That money, combined with a $20 million contribution from the State of Arkansas, $17 million from private sources and $7 million from Little Rock-based Alltel Corporation paid for the construction of a 377,000-square-foot (35,000 m2) arena, which cost nearly $80 million to build. When the doors opened in 1999, the facility was paid for and there was no public indebtedness.
Two sites in North Little Rock drew interest from county officials for the proposed arena. The first was a 19.5-acre (79,000 m2) commercial site west of Interstate 30, which contained a strip mall, a Kroger and an abandoned K-Mart storefront. The second site was an 11.6-acre (47,000 m2) plot at the foot of the Broadway Bridge.
The Pulaski County Multipurpose Civic Center Facilities Board selected the larger site for the arena in 1996 and paid $3.7 million for the land, some of which was acquired through eminent domain, a move protested in court by several landowners.
The second site later would be chosen for the new baseball stadium, Dickey-Stephens Park, constructed for the Arkansas Travelers. The Class AA minor-league baseball team moved from the then 73-year-old Ray Winder Field in Little Rock to a new $28 million home in North Little Rock at the start of the 2007 season.
The arena was the home of the 2003, 2006, and 2009 Southeastern Conference women's basketball tournament and the 2000 Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball tournament. The Arena holds the all-time attendance record for an SEC Women's Tournament when 43,642 people attended the event in 2003.
The arena hosted portions of the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in March 2008 and the SEC Gymnastics Championships in 2007.
The arena is also used for other events: concerts (seating capacity is between 15,000 and 18,000 for end-stage concerts; the arena has an 80-by-40-foot portable stage); rodeos and auto racing (seating capacity is 14,000); and trade shows and conventions (there are 28,000 square feet (2,600 m2) of arena floor space plus 7,050 square feet (655 m2) of meeting space and 2,580 square feet (240 m2) of pre-function space). As a concert venue, its location prompted Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to play one of its most rarely performed numbers, 1973's "Mary Queen of Arkansas", during a March 2000 show on their Reunion Tour.
The arena is owned by the Multi-Purpose Civic Center Facilities Board for Pulaski County. The arena was designed by the Civic Center Design Team (CCDT), Burt Taggart & Associates, Architects/Engineers, The Wilcox Group, Garver & Garver Engineering and Rosser International of Atlanta.
Fleetwood Mac performed at Verizon Arena May 4, 2013 with surprise guests former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton attending the show. Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood introduced the couple, who were seated in an arena suite, to the sold-out audience and dedicated the song "Don't Stop" to them, which was appropriately Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential election campaign song.
On October 5, 2016, the arena hosted the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions.
- Pierce, Ray (August 3, 1997). "Vote Gave a Penny Tax for a River Dream Pulaski County Supports Vision of Future of Downtown on LR, NLR Waterfronts". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 2, 2019.
- Pierce, Ray (October 8, 1996). "Arena Board Settles on Lineup to Plan, Build, Manage Center". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
- McGuire, Kim (October 2, 1999). "$80 Million Alltel Arena Opens Today". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
- Netterstrom, Kristin (April 13, 2009). "Arena Set to Take on Name of Verizon". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved April 13, 2009.[dead link]
- "2016 Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions takes center stage beginning Sept. 15". usagym.org. Retrieved March 26, 2019.