Buerkle Berm Dedication Planned for September 9

John Buerkle Circa 1958
Col. John G. Buerkle

Arkansas Tech University will dedicate the spectator area just beyond the north end zone of its home football stadium as Col. John G. Buerkle Berm during a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 9.

The dedication will begin at 4 p.m. at the Buerkle Berm. The event will be open to the public and will precede ATU’s first home football game of the season, which is scheduled to kickoff at 6 p.m. that evening.

Buerkle was an engineering and mathematics instructor at Arkansas Tech from 1920-29 and was Arkansas Tech physical plant engineer from 1947-62.

The fifth president of Arkansas Tech, Hugh Critz, charged Buerkle with developing a new playing surface for the Wonder Boys football team in the early 1920s. Buerkle re-oriented the field to its current north-to-south layout. In recognition of Buerkle’s efforts, Critz named the football playing surface Buerkle Field in April 1923. Buerkle later oversaw the construction of new bleachers on the west side of the stadium, an addition that debuted in time for the 1934 season.

Following the Return to Glory campaign for ATU athletics, the facility was re-named Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in 2007 in honor of the campaign co-chairs, Harriet and Rick Thone of Russellville. The home of Wonder Boys football is being re-named Simmons Bank Field at Thone Stadium beginning with the 2023 football season.

The re-naming was achieved in consultation with Buerkle’s grandchildren, Bill Roberts Jr. and Carol Starrett.