Sports return to UAA, but fans will need masks and social distancing to watch them

Teams prepare for the Seawolf Invitational, the first sporting event at the Alaska Airlines...
Teams prepare for the Seawolf Invitational, the first sporting event at the Alaska Airlines Center since the start of the pandemic.(Dave Leval)
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 9:02 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -The Alaska Airlines Center is back in business as the University of Alaska Anchorage hosts the Seawolf Invitational Sept. 2-4. Six volleyball teams from around the country are taking part in it.

It’s the first event in the arena since the pandemic shut down sporting events there in early 2020. Now that events are back, getting in to watch the volleyball tournament and other events will come with safety requirements

“Everyone will need to be masked here in the Alaska Airlines Center,” said UAA Director of Athletics Greg Myford.

Athletes and coaches on the benches will also have to wear masks. However, Myford said players in a game don’t have to wear one.

The Seawolves also put in place social distancing protocols for fans.

“When you come to the game, you will be able to sit with those you came with, right,” Myford said. “You’ll be able to sit down as a group of four, group of two, whatever it is. But, you’ll be spaced a little bit from the group next to you, or the group in front of you.”

The volleyball tournament is the first to take place on a new court. Myford said the November 2018 earthquake had damaged the old one.

“The sprinkler system up top had broken off, and we got some water on the floor,” Myford said.

He said he and others walked into the arena to find up to 6 inches of water on the floor. The court lasted through the rest of that year, but was not used during the pandemic. Myford said the time had come to replace it.

“What happens with wood, you know, when it gets wet is one thing,” Myford said. “As it begins to dry out, which happens over time, it began to warp a little bit. We got some dead spots on the floor.”

The addition of the new court welcomes fans as sports return to the Alaska Airlines Center.

“To have our student athletes back in action is one thing, after 18 months,” Myford said. “So that’s very welcome. And then as a bonus, being able to have our fans here.”

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