Little Rock Copper Bowl: When Chiefs (of the Police variety) were involved in football in Little Rock

Next Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, so it seems to be a good time to remember the five year series of football games in Little Rock known as the Copper Bowl.

From December 1959 through December 1963, the Little Rock Police Department played the North Little Rock Police Department in a series of football games.  The Copper Bowl games were fundraisers to help the LRPD provide food and presents for needy families during the Christmas season.

The agreement was that the teams would play for five years. The team with the most wins would permanently receive the Copper Bowl trophy.  The LRPD was outfitted with uniforms from Little Rock University and Louisiana State University (thanks to the efforts of Sgt. Harold Zook).  The games were played at Quigley Stadium.

Before the final game on December 1, 1963, the series was tied at 2-2.  The LRPD team won the game and permanently captured the trophy.  Over the five year period several thousand dollars were raised.

80 years ago today – Basketball came to Robinson Auditorium

Coach Earl Quigley in the 1940s

While Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium is known today as a performance and meeting venue, in its early days it was also the home to sports. Eighty years ago tonight the first basketball game was played at Robinson.

With the renovation dropping the orchestra level down many feet, one of the basketball goals would have been approximately where the cast of Wicked is currently performing.

One of the first regular activities which took place in the lower level exhibition hall was a series of boxing and wrestling matches.  Building on the success of this, basketball came to the convention hall in January 1940.

A series of games featuring Little Rock High School and North Little Rock High School were announced by Tiger Coach Earl Quigley to take place from January 11 through February 16, the official opening day for the facility.

At that time, neither high school had a gymnasium; therefore both schools played their basketball games on their school auditorium stages with fans seated in the audience. The convention hall offered a regulation size floor (made of pecan block parquet) with seating for over 1,300 people along the sidelines and in the balcony.  The first men’s basketball game in Robinson Auditorium took place between the Little Rock High School Tigers and the North Little Rock High School Wildcats on January 11, 1940.

The Tigers lost the game before a crowd estimated to be 1,300.  Earlier in the evening there had been an exhibition between two women’s basketball teams.  The cost for admission to the games was 35 cents for the reserved seating and 25 cents for general admission.

80 years ago today, Christmas carols rang out from the steps of Robinson Auditorium

In front of Robinson Center, one of the sculptures is called “Let the Music Play.” 80 years ago today, the music played on the front steps of the building as construction continued on the inside.

On the afternoon of December 18, 1939, 500 school children from elementary schools were joined by the A Capella Choir of Little Rock High School as they sang Christmas carols on the front steps of the auditorium on a weekday afternoon. The singers were accompanied by the Little Rock High School Brass Sextet. The invocation for the event, which was sponsored by the Little Rock Council of Parents and Teachers, was delivered by the Right Reverend Richard Bland Mitchell, the Episcopal Bishop of Arkansas.

A Christmas tree in front of City Hall was lit up as part of the ceremony as well. Media coverage noted that the audience witnessing the program stood on the front steps of the Pulaski County Courthouse, the side lawn of City Hall and in front of the steps of Robinson Auditorium. It was also noted that most windows in the nearby government buildings were filled with people watching the festivities.