Wonder Boys Football Camps
The story of Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field began in April 1923. That was when Hugh Critz, president of what was then known as the Second District Agricultural School from 1918-24, named the school’s new athletic field after John G. Buerkle. The designation was made in honor of Buerkle’s outstanding efforts in developing the new playing surface for the football team. Buerkle was an engineering and mathematics instructor from 1920-29, and he later served Tech as physical plant engineer from 1947-62.
In November 1929, a group of Russellville citizens began a fund-raising drive to construct a new football stadium on the Arkansas Tech campus. Buerkle was selected to serve as engineer for the new stadium project.
Nearly five years later, in October 1934, the new stadium was opened, thanks in large part to a $12,000 grant from the Public Works Administration. New bleachers on the west side of the stadium could accommodate 2,500 fans, while the old wooden bleachers were moved to the east side of the stadium for visiting fans. Three years later, the Board of Trustees approved $2,500 for the purchase and installation of flood lights at the stadium. Tech hosted its first home night football game in 1937.
Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field experienced a major renovation before the beginning of the 1970 football season. Improvements were funded by $250,000 in bonds issued by the Board of Trustees and included the construction of a new track, additional stadium seating, a new press box, renovated and additional lighting equipment and upgrades to the team dressing facility. Nine years later, in 1979, the university constructed new visitor bleachers on the east side of the stadium.
The next major renovation to the Tech football stadium debuted at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field during the 2007 season. The latest improvements include a new press box, new restroom facilities, a new bookstore auxiliary for the sale of Tech spirit items, new concession stands, a new scoreboard and numerous other esthetic improvements. Prior to Tech's homecoming game on Oct. 20, 2007, against Ouachita Baptist, Tech President Robert C. Brown announced the naming of Tech’s newly-renovated stadium at Buerkle Field for Rick and Harriet Thone. The many improvements to the stadium were made possible by the Return to Glory capital campaign, which raised $4.3 million in private donations. The co-chairs of the Return to Glory campaign were the Thones.
Renovations were funded in part by the Return to Glory capital campaign, which raised $4.3 million in private donations in support of the construction of a new residence hall (Baswell Hall), renovations to Buerkle Field and the construction of the Chartwells Women’s Sports Complex. While the construction was ongoing, Tech played its 2006 home football games at Cyclone Stadium on the Russellville High School campus.
The Wonder Boys have an all-time home record of 274-126-22 (.675) as of the end of the 2006 season. From 1999-2006, Tech had a home record of 31-9 (.775).
In addition to Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field, the Wonder Boys football program also benefits from dressing, training and office facilities inside the Hull Building, which is located on the north end of the stadium. The $6.7 million addition to the Hull Building was officially dedicated in October 2001. Incorporated in this new area is space for Tech’s football and athletic training programs. Spread out over two floors, the unit includes offices, reception area, a lounge, meeting rooms, a weight room, film editing room, locker room, an athletic training area and an equipment and supply room.