Students attempting to name student section “Hell’s Half-Acre”

This article originally appeared at TCU 360 on Oct. 6, 2012.

Nicknaming stadiums has long been a college football tradition. Any team looking to beat the University of Florida Gators must wade through The Swamp. Louisiana State University’s opponents must make their way through Death Valley for a victory. Now, teams that want to beat TCU might have to go through Hell’s Half-Acre.

A movement started by some students on campus to rename the student section of Amon G. Carter Stadium “Hell’s Half-Acre” is well underway after pictures of the sign they made at the season opener against Grambling State were published on TCU 360.

Shirts are being made with the name and there is talk of students bringing the idea to the Student Government Association to make the name change official. There is even a Facebook group devoted to the cause called “Welcome to Hell’s Half-Acre.” As of Friday afternoon the group had 774 members.

The idea to rename the student section to Hell’s Half-Acre has been two years in the making, according to senior Clinton Foster and junior Beau Coleman.

Foster, a senior broadcast journalism major, and Coleman, a junior film-television-digital media major, were both equipment managers for the football team two years ago when they started thinking about the concept of Fort Worth’s red light district, which is also referred to as Hell’s Half-Acre.

“It was my idea, originally. I thought it just had a lot of significance for Fort Worth’s history,” Foster said.

Foster and Coleman talked about the idea of renaming the student section, but didn’t take any action until this year, after the university entered the Big 12 conference and started playing in a remodeled stadium.

“We made signs for the first game against Grambling State, and it seemed like it was a big hit,” Coleman said. “I made the Facebook group right after the game, and I’ve brought the sign to every home game since.”

The name seems to have caught on. Some enterprising students have taken advantage of the new name, creating purple shirts with the name “Hell’s Half-Acre” printed on them.

Junior accounting and finance double major Clay Beltran began selling shirts for $10 each on September 26 and has sold close to 130 shirts so far. Beltran said he plans to sell the shirts all season long to raise school spirit and will sell the shirts in Frog Alley for tomorrow’s Big 12 home opener against Iowa State.

“We’re not trying to make a profit, just trying to make something to show school pride and camaraderie around the new stadium,” Beltran said.

However, the possibility of naming the student section after a historically lawless part of town has raised some concern among members of the community.

Hell’s Half-Acre was a stretch of land in the southern part of downtown Fort Worth that covered all the way to present day Commerce Street, known in the 1800s as Rusk Street. At its biggest, the half-acre actually covered from 17th to 5th Street and from Union Station to an intersection on Main and 7th Streets.  It was home to numerous saloons and brothels and at one time was considered the most lawless section of Fort Worth, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

In 1873, the university’s campus was located a few blocks north of Hell’s Half-Acre on Calhoun Street. But university founders worried about the vices that the Half-Acre’s environment would present to college students, so they moved to the school’s current location, according to Star-Telegram writer and Fort Worth native Bud Kennedy.

Kennedy, an alumnus, said students should take history into consideration when thinking about the new name.

“It’s part of Fort Worth’s outlaw history, and it’s a lot of fun for TCU to be connecting with history, but people should definitely be aware of what Hell’s Half-Acre was and what it wasn’t,” Kennedy said.

Foster and Coleman said they chose the name directly because of the rowdy connotation it evokes.

“I understand the connotation of the name, but it’s just a part of Fort Worth’s unique history.  It’s a name to impose intimidation in our opponents,” Coleman said.

Foster agreed, saying that the name is meant to remind people of the historically lawless red light district.

“Historically, it was basically a den of vice and sin, and there were some really crazy stories that came out of that time period,” Foster said.

However, for as much enthusiasm as some students have about renaming the stadium, some on the administration are not as enthused.

“I wouldn’t pick the name ‘Hell’s Half-Acre,’” Chancellor Victor Boschini said. “Not because of the word ‘hell,’ but just because I think the students could come up with something better.”

Athletics Director Chris Del Conte said that although he does not institutionally support the section renaming, he does support fans calling it ‘Hell’s Half-Acre’ as part of an “organic, student-led” process.

SGA Vice President of External Affairs Graham McMillan said that writing some sort of document about naming the student section would “be a good move for those students to pursue if they wanted to rename it.”

As of Friday, students have not written any legislation to make the name change official.

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