(Courtesy of Arkansas State University.)
The Arkansas State Athletics Department announced Tuesday the single largest personal gift commitment in its history, a $5 million contribution by the Johnny Allison family that will be used in conjunction with A-State’s “Centennial Expansion” project.
“This is a monumental occasion for Arkansas State University made possible by one of our most successful and recognizable alumni, Johnny Allison, and his family,” said A-State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir. “We’ve taken a major step today in our mission to strengthen our national brand and provide first-class facilities for our student-athletes and fans. This is another testament to the outstanding leadership and vision of our chancellor, Dr. Tim Hudson, and system president, Dr. Chuck Welch.”
The announcement was made at an afternoon press conference fittingly held on the west side of Centennial Bank Stadium, where the project’s construction and renovations will take place to the press box and concourse-level amenities. The entire project, including the press box and concourse, will cover 39,673 square feet.
“Today we celebrate a moment in time that generations will remember,” said Hudson. “We often use the word ‘transformative’ about Arkansas State, and Johnny Allison, his family and their gift are all the embodiment of the term. His generosity will forever change Centennial Bank Stadium and the eastern side of our campus.
“Being a destination university includes having vibrant student life, and the expanded stadium will improve the student experience at A-State. This investment in our future will not only enhance our football program, but our entire region through the economic impact of construction and growth in student pride.”
Yesterday’s press conference was conducted just 12 days shy of the two-year anniversary of a $5 million donation by Liberty Bank, which has since been sold to Home BancShares and merged with Centennial Bank. Allison is a 1969 Arkansas State University alumnus and founder of the bank holding company headquartered in Arkansas.
“It is our hope that this contribution from the Allison family, together with the Centennial Bank contribution, will go a long way toward making the dreams of the athletes at Arkansas State University come true,” said Allison.
The Centennial Expansion project will include a complete overhaul to the stadium press box, expanding it to 35,741 square feet. The face of the stadium will be redesigned to include 42 loge boxes, 20 suites and 300 club seats in its revenue-generating areas. The suites will average 433 square feet each.
Not only will depth be added to the press box, it will span from approximately the 15-to-15 yard lines, allowing for enhanced media, coaching, broadcasting, control booth, visiting athletics director suite, and camera areas.
The project also calls for major improvements and additions to the concourse bathrooms, concessions, gating and ticketing areas.
“Arkansas State has a long history of developing successful business leaders who are committed to giving back to our university,” said Welch. “Johnny Allison is the perfect example of a state and national leader who believes in what is happening at his alma mater and is focused on assisting us in reaching our goals.
“The expansion of Centennial Bank stadium will not only be impressive, but it will truly be representative of the massive strides this university is taking in intercollegiate athletics. Johnny and Jennifer Allison are university treasures, and we are so grateful for their assistance as we continue to grow this outstanding university.”
Allison played on the 1968 A-State football team, and he later served on the ASU Board of Trustees from 1979-84, serving as chairman in 1983. He was named an Arkansas State University Distinguished Alumni in 1998.
Allison is a commissioner for the Arkansas State Police and is past central Arkansas representative of the Murphy Commission. He was recently named a 2013 Community Banker of the year by American Banker Magazine, an honor issued to just four bankers across the nation.
The lifelong Arkansas resident encourages his employees to give back to the communities and does so by leading through example. Allison and Centennial Bank have donated countless hours and dollars to local charities, schools and law enforcement agencies.
He is the name sake of the Allison Entrepreneurial speaking series that helps encourage college students to reach for their dreams.