When Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference in August of 1990, then Razorback Men’s Athletic Director Frank Broyles knew the athletic facilities had to be upgraded to contend in America’s most nationally competitive league.
His attention turned immediately to basketball. The men’s basketball team had been very successful, coming off a Final Four trip earlier that year, but they, along with the women’s team, played in 9,000-seat Barnhill Arena. One day, Bud Walton, co-founder of Wal-Mart, visited Broyles and asked him what Arkansas needed most to be competitive in the SEC. Broyles mentioned the need for additional basketball seats and was asked by Walton what a new arena would cost. The figure $30 million was discussed and Walton offered to pay half. From that visit, fabulous Bud Walton Arena was born.
Ground breaking to grand opening was accomplished in a remarkable 18 months. The Razorbacks played in Bud Walton for the first time in November of 1993. Everything went perfectly during the first full year. Not only did Arkansas men’s team sell out the arena, the Razorbacks were unbeaten in their new home (16-0) and won the 1994 national championship.