A-State unveils "Allison Field" as part of athletic donations ceremony

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A huge reveal took place at Arkansas State University on Monday.

Community leaders and A-State representatives gathered together for an exciting announcement.

Centennial Bank donated five million dollars to the athletic program, while the Allison family also donated five million dollars.

As a result, changes of what the north end zone will become was revealed.

Athletic Director Terry Mohajir said they were thrilled to honor those who have shown them so much support.

"Because of the recent success," Mohajir said. "Both of us have enjoyed, it gave Centennial Bank another opportunity to co-brand with the university by naming our Athletics Operation Center in the north end zone. It'll now be called Centennial Bank Athletics Operation Center. Where it will be the primary location for our football program. And additionally, will service all 350 plus athletic students."

Donor John Allison said that A-State and the community are joined together and when one succeeds, so does the other.

"It is what it is," Allison said. "This great athletic department creates excitement. Which creates an economic activity which creates people to come to town which makes things happen. They all feed upon themselves. And it's been a great economic activity for us in the banking industry, as well as the university. I feel like it's a partnership. We help each other grow, but think about the impact of this university on this community in Northeast Arkansas. It's absolutely incredible and as we continue to grow this with this new facility, it'll be even stronger and stronger and stronger."

Allison said he and his family have been a part of Arkansas State University since he was young.

"You don't have enough time for me to tell you what the A-State program means to me and my family," Allison said. "Five generations of Allison's graduated from here. I grew up 150 yards from here. My home and my family home. My sister still works here. My brother has lived here all of his life and he works at the bank with me."

Coach Blake Anderson said this is going to provide A-State's players and the program a wonderful opportunity.

"It's just a tremendous time to be here," Coach Anderson said. "Part of our program and just what it means going forward is really hard to describe. We want to be the best in the country at what we do. And the commitment that we're getting from Centennial Bank and John Allison and his family really moves us into a position where we can really fight to do that. The facilities we'll have will be as good as anybody's or better in the country. Creates a tremendous recruiting tool for us. And mainly provides an opportunity for our players to work in an environment that's as good as anywhere in the country. From where they'll be in a locker room setting to a training room to the weight room and just the way they train. It'll be state of the art in every area and give them a chance to truly be their best."

The football field is also going to be called, "Allison Field."

"That was pretty humbling," Allison said. "I don't really put my name on much. I put my name on the tower and after a while, I started not to do that. And then, the thought of having my name on the field brought a tear to my eye."

"Naming the field after someone was not something I took lightly. I believe it's very special," Mohajir said. "I promise the naming of this field was not something we would let anyone just purchase or have. We knew it had to mean something to the current players, the lettermen, the alumni, the fans and the citizens of the state of Arkansas. But most importantly, the guys on the field going forward need to know what they can aspire to be by learning about great business leaders and alumni like Johnny."

Mohajir said because of all the support they've received, funds won't come from other areas.

"With this commitment," Mohajir said. "From Centennial Bank and other generous donors, not one dollar from the state or students will be utilized. This will be privately financed to the Red Wolves Foundation and we're very excited we're able to do that."

Allison said it's about teaming up for a better tomorrow.

"This is about building together," Allison said. "I told you in 2014 when we made then what was said to be the largest financial contribution ever made to ASU that we weren't here for the short run. That we were here for the long run. Today, we announced another five million by the Allison family and another five million by CentennBankbank. So, I think that's proof in the pudding that we were just kind of warming up four or five years ago."

"Nothing happens alone," Anderson said. "It doesn't come strictly through the state. It doesn't come strictly through alumni. It's a joint effort and I think to be connected to somebody that's so involved in the community, Centennial Bank and Johnny's family, it just makes it even that much more special. It's truly a give and take. We talk all the time about family and community and this is as big a picture of that as you're going to see."

Anderson said they're going to strive to be the best they can be.

"We want to be the best team in the country," Coach Anderson said. "At our level. We've done a good job of taking that first step. But to go beyond that something like this and this kind of building venture and what it'll do for our facilities and the recruiting and the training aspects of what it will provide for our guys truly gives us a chance to get there. It's been a long time coming. It's been a process with a lot of time and energy and hours. Guys like Terry Mohajir and Kelly and Chuck and the board to fight for this."

Anderson said this is just the beginning.

"This is the next step," Coach Anderson said. "To being one of the best programs in the country. We're going to honor that with how we work and how we prepare. We want to make the Allison family and the Centennial Bank family proud of the product that we put out there."

For more information about A State's athletic program, click here.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

Watch Region 8 News On Demand: On your Desktop | On your Mobile device

Region 8 News App - Install or update on your: iPhone | Android