Jonesboro is one of those tiny college towns that comes alive on game day. Centennial Bank Stadium, playfully nicknamed the vault, is home to the Arkansas State red wolves.
The opening game at Centennial Bank Stadium is a special one as the incoming class is oriented with a 20 year tradition known as “Order of the Pack.” An hour prior to kickoff, the student section swells with mostly freshman ready to learn A-State chants and traditions. Many alumni sneak in, as well, to relive their college days.
All gamedays include a fan-flooded parking lot buzzing with tailgating and anticipation. A couple hours prior to kickoff, the band, cheerleaders, and mascot weave their way through the Arkansas State faithful and open a pathway for the arrival of the football squad. It’s a part of gameday here that festively exposes the spirit of this fan base.
However, some of the original spirit was erased in 2008. From 1931-2008, Arkansas State was known as the Indians – it was such a huge part of the culture here, that the stadium was even named Indian Stadium. But, the NCAA placed a ban on any potentially offensive Indian imagery, and Arkansas State complied with a mascot switch to the Red Wolves. The new moniker has has been well embraced in Jonesboro, but outside of the sports teams, there remains much evidence of Native American imagery on campus – most notably, Clyde, a 1,000 pound Indian statue that represents the spirit and history of this great school. The current official mascot, Howl, is what represents that electric spirit of Arkansas State today.
The Red Wolves’ roar is the heartbeat of Jonesboro, and this little town in northeast Arkansas provides more proof that college football houses some special venues off beaten paths.