LITTLE ROCK – Turns out, there’s more to Arkansas-Pine Bluff returning to Little Rock than just a conference football game.

LITTLE ROCK – Turns out, there’s more to Arkansas-Pine Bluff returning to Little Rock than just a conference football game.


UAPB will play its first game at War Memorial Stadium in three years when it hosts Alcorn State on Oct. 3. But festivities in conjunction with the game will begin on Oct. 1 with a football scholarship fundraiser at the Clinton Presidential Center in the state capital.


NFL greats Jay Novacek, Keith Jackson, Art Monk and Charles Mann have been invited to participate in the "Legends and Legacies" fundraiser, according to a news release, although UAPB coach Monte Coleman said none have confirmed their appearances yet. Tickets for the event, which is expected to have a format similar to "Home Runs and Heroes" with Torii Hunter, are $250 each.


A news conference was held at War Memorial’s press box to "officially" announce the game, almost two months after UAPB released its football schedule. The extended weekend is a golden chance for the Golden Lions, who finished 4-7 last season, to reach out to alumni and potential students in the Little Rock area and boost interest in the program.


"This is our second site for home games," said Coleman, going into his eighth season at the Lions’ helm and 14th with the program. "This is an opportunity for all our friends and alumni to come to a different site to watch the Golden Lions play. So, to play a great team to raise money for scholarships and to play here instead of Golden Lion Stadium is a bigger bang for our buck."


Said UAPB athletic director Lonza Hardy Jr.: "This year was an ideal situation with the number of home games we have here. We have six home games, and moving one of those games to Little Rock was an ideal situation. Considering how hard it was convincing an opposing team to drive a little bit further, I think the team is going to be welcomed out here coming a little bit further rather than playing on the home turf."


The game is not considered a classic but it will count as a home game, Coleman said. Some past UAPB games in Little Rock have been known as the Arkansas Classic and the Delta Classic 4 Literacy, the latter of which concluded in 2012.


That was the last time UAPB played at War Memorial. It opened the season with that game, using a Tyler Strickland field goal to beat Langston (Oklahoma), en route to its first outright SWAC championship – which ended on a Strickland field goal in overtime against Jackson State.


"I think it’s a good omen," Coleman said of UAPB’s 2015 hopes.


Alcorn State last traveled to Little Rock in 1999, when Lee Hardman-coached UAPB beat the Braves 33-17.


Hardy said he and Coleman didn’t want to just schedule any opponent for a Little Rock game, electing to move a game that otherwise would be played in Golden Lion Stadium to Little Rock. The move still leaves the Lions with five games in Pine Bluff.


"We believe there’s no better game than UAPB playing against the defending champions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the Braves of Alcorn State University," Hardy said.


Hardy said no plans have been made for UAPB to play annually at War Memorial again, adding the future of games in Little Rock will be determined by the success of the Oct. 3 game (including ticket sales).


"Not only do we want to play here in front of potential student-athletes here in the city but graduate students as well," Hardy said. "The chancellor did a good job marketing in the Pulaski County area, and we think playing a game here will be beneficial."


UAPB’s home attendance has struggled the past two seasons without a Little Rock game, but so have the Golden Lions on the field. Only 6,007 on average watched a game at Golden Lion Stadium in 2014 when UAPB went 4-7, down from 6,653 during a 2-9 campaign in 2013, 8,986 during the 10-2 season in 2012 and 9,684 during a 6-5 year in 2011. The Delta Classic 4 Literacy games in 2012 and 2011 were considered neutral-site games because of their classic status.


Kickoff for the Oct. 3 game is set for 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $35 for reserved chairback seats and $100 for club seating.


UAPB begins its season on a Sunday, Sept. 6 against South Carolina State in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando, Florida, on ESPN.