Last month, Arkansas-Pine Bluff agreed to play in the Southern Heritage Classic against Tennessee State in 2023 and 2024 in the wake of Jackson State’s departure from the classic earlier this year. This is a win for both sides as Pine Bluff is three hours away from Memphis and the Golden Lions get a destination classic for their program. Last season, the Golden Lions were slated to play in the SWAC Classic at Legion Field in Birmingham before scheduling conflicts prevented that game from occurring.
Lost in this is the future of St. Louis’ upstart HBCU Classic. After an 11-year hiatus, HBCU football was set to return to the Gateway City this season with Arkansas Pine-Bluff slated to play Alabama A&M at The Dome at America’s Center, the former home of the St. Louis Rams and home of the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks. However, organizational issues scuttled that classic and forced Alabama A&M and Arkansas-Pine Bluff to move the game back to Pine Bluff.
Now, with UAPB committed to the Southern Heritage Classic for the next two years, the hope of a St. Louis HBCU return seems fleeting. Options are already limited for logical teams to play in the classic with Lincoln, Langston, and Kentucky State being at the top of the list. However, the City of St. Louis may be growing impatient as the 2022 classic was the second one in three years to be canceled in the city as low ticket sales canned Kentucky State and Lincoln’s game in 2019.
The two-year deal with the Southern Heritage Classic seems to be a test run for Arkansas Pine-Bluff, but it may become a long-term relationship. If that is the case, the future or lack thereof for the St. Louis HBCU Classic seems to be all but sealed.