Downtown North Little Rock rolls out red carpet for happy hoops fans

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Three weeks after the downer of the Arkansas Razorbacks season-ending loss in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium, fans are looking for a Razorback Rebound across the river, with the men’s and women’s basketball teams playing special games at Simmons Bank Arena.

It has the nearby downtown restaurant district ready to roll out the red carpet.

“Argenta is really kind of a hot spot right now,” said Chris Kent with the Argenta Downtown Council, as he sat on a chilly swing in the brand new plaza on Main St. 

“With the basketball team, it’s just so exciting,” he said. “People are really getting after them and following them. So as compared to football, which we hope will be on the rise, this is a real exciting time.”

It’s worth making a weekend out of it. The sports/holiday atmosphere starts with shows and concerts Friday night. On Saturday, hoops and hog calls start early.

“I’m really excited for tomorrow,” said Katy Freeman, with a bold prediction from a manager at Cregeens Irish Pub. “I’m expecting it to be busy all day just like a St. Patrick’s day hopefully.”

Cregeens will not be alone with an early 11 a.m. start. The game action starts at 1 p.m. with the novelty of the UA-Little Rock ladies taking on Hogs from the Hill.

From there, the schedule is packed between games when the men take the floor versus Valparaiso at 7 p.m.

“There’s an Arkansas alumni association happy hour at the Joint theater from 3-6 and then a pep rally at 5:30 at the arena,” Kent said. The alumni event will include a showing of the 1994 NCAA National Championship game.

With the rapidly developing Argenta Plaza as a focal point, the growth in the area is obvious and should rub off on fans.

“Well, it’s definitely been growing,” Freeman said. “We’ve had several businesses opening up in the area, so there’s always foot traffic coming through here. And us being the first business next to the game, we get a lot of people.”

“I hope that people come out and see that Argenta is a special place,” Kent said. “It’s a place that you can come, bring the family, you can hang out, you can have a good time.”

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