CONWAY, Ark. (UCA) - In just over two months, the University of Central Arkansas Bears will take the field for the 2013 season opener to begin the quest for their second straight Southland Conference championship and third straight appearance in the Division I Football Championship playoffs.
When the Bears open the season on Thursday, Aug. 29 against incoming Southland Conference member Incarnate Word, they'll kick off the third season on The Stripes of First Security Field at Estes Stadium - a place they have not lost since laying down the purple-and-gray turf before the 2011 season. With a 12-game home winning streak intact to begin the season, the Bears will have a chance to extend it to at least 18 during the 2013 season as they shoot for their third straight undefeated season at home and fourth in six years.
Since starting Southland Conference play in 2007, the Bears have won better than 80 percent of their games on First Security Field, making Estes Stadium one of the most difficult venues for opposing teams in Division I FCS and helping the reputation of the game day atmosphere at Estes Stadium grow and improve - evidenced in part by The Sports Network naming it the top stop in the Southland Conference in its Road Trip to the Best FCS Stadiums - joining the likes of Appalachian State, Montana, two-time defending national champion North Dakota State and Yale.
The game day environment will be further enhanced this season by the introduction of a new pre-game fan zone at the practice field.
UCA Sports Marketing and the UCA Athletic Department are excited to launch a new, interactive pre-game fan zone where Bear fans can come out to the practice field (located west of Estes Stadium, between Bruce Street and the indoor practice facility) and enjoy the DeBoard Electronics TV Zone - which will be airing college football games from around the country; a Kid Zone area, equipped with bounce houses and obstacle courses; and a hospitality tent where fans can Sit, relax and cool down with a cold drink. The fan zone will also feature a vendor area where local restaurants and companies will be handing out samples and products.
The fan zone, which will be free to all, will open 2.5 hours before the game and close 20 minutes before kickoff. A contest is underway to name the fan zone. To vote for and/or submit your choice for the name for the new fan zone, visit ucasports.com/fanzone. Votes and submissions will be taken through Wednesday, June 26, with another round of voting to follow beginning Thursday, June 27.
Season tickets are on sale now for the Bears' exciting six-game home slate that features the best teams in the Southland Conference visiting Conway. Programs that have won or shared 10 of the last 11 Southland championships not won by the Bears will be coming to The Stripes in 2013.
After opening with incoming Southland member Incarnate Word on Aug. 29, the Bears welcome 13-time Southland champion McNeese State to Conway to open conference play on Oct. 15. Stephen F. Austin, which won the league title in 2009 and 2010 and was the only Southland team to defeat the Bears in 2012, comes to town on Oct. 26; and Sam Houston State, which has played in the last two FCS National Championship games, will visit The Stripes in the regular-season finale on Nov. 23. The Bears will also host league foe Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 9 in a game shown by ESPN3. A non-conference game with Nebraska-Kearney on Oct. 12 rounds out the Bears' home schedule.
Ticket sales for the general public are ongoing, with Purple Circle priority running through July 15. Tickets may be purchased by calling the ticket office at 501-852-2234. Season ticket packages start at less than $10 per game, with packages as low as $55 for children and senior citizens.
The Bears are coming off their second Southland Conference championship after going 9-3 last season, and return the league's Offensive Player of the Year in senior all-american quarterback Wynrick Smothers and all-american defensive end Jonathan Woodard, last year's Southland Conference Freshman of the Year.
2013 Central Arkansas Bears Football Schedule
Thu., Aug. 29 - INCARNATE WORD, 7 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 7 - at Colorado, 7 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 14 - at Tennessee-Martin, 6 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 21 - at Missouri State, 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 5 - MCNEESE STATE, 3 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 12 - NEBRASKA-KEARNEY, 3 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 19 - at Lamar, 6 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 26 - STEPHEN F. AUSTIN, 3 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 2 - at Northwestern State, 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 9 - SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA, 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 16 - at Nicholls State, 3 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 23 - SAM HOUSTON STATE, 3 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 30 - Division I FCS Playoffs