ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - For the past 36 years the University of Alaska Anchorage men's hockey team has played its home games at the Sullivan Arena, but next season that will all change. Facing an uncertain fiscal future and an expiring contract, UAA announced Wednesday its plans to return to campus, where the team will play home games at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.
“My own philosophy is always going to be, playing on our own campus, in front of our own students, faculty, staff, fans, and being able to energize campus,” said UAA Athletic Director Greg Myford at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Joining Myford at the press conference was head hockey coach Matt Curley, UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen and Vice Chancellor Beverly Shuford.
“This is something we didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak -- a lot of moving pieces from the administrator's point of view, and what we do on a day-to-day basis,” said Curley.
The administration and players on hand praised the energy, and the opportunity the Wells Fargo Sports Complex offers.
"It's a lot easier for students to come if the rink is right on campus,” said sophomore forward Drake Glover. “So I think everybody is super excited about it."
On top of the accessibility, the main selling point was the affordability of the on-campus rink. The one thing the new home rink will lack is seats. It currently holds 800 fans, according to Myford. The UAA Athletic Director said they will keep the rink as is for the next two years before plans for renovations, and hope to seat at least 2,500 in the future.
Vice Chancellor Shuford said the Seawolves paid around $200,000 a year to play at the Sullivan Arena and were unable to keep revenue from parking and concessions. Greg Spears, the general manager of SMG of Alaska, which manages the Sullivan Arena, said the company found out Tuesday that UAA would not renew its contract.
“We are certainly going to miss UAA,” said Spears.
Spears went on to downplay the move, saying it opens more premium dates, and emphasizing that it’s not about the number of events as it is the type of events.
"When we rent for youth hockey, that's a pretty low income event,” said Spears. “When we have a Kevin Hart show, that will displace 10 UAA hockey Games."
The Sullivan Arena plans to fill the empty 20 premium dates with events like concerts, trade shows, and a Monster truck rally. The ice rink will stay at the arena for the upcoming Aces alumni game, and Spears said junior hockey teams have shown interest in the venue as well.
Athletic Director Greg Myford said the university is firmly committed to Seawolf Hockey.
Earlier this year, the University of Alaska Fairbanks hockey program announced it will stay in the aging Carlson Center arena in Fairbanks, but is looking to a solution for an on-campus home for the Nanooks' hockey team as the Carlson Center ice plant ages.
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