UAA hockey backing new campus athletic complex

The new facility could come with a price tag of $50-$75 million
UAA hockey backing new campus athletic complex
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 7:58 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Seawolf Hockey Alliance is starting a movement to add a new facility adjacent to the existing sports complex on campus.

The new sports arena on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus will host UAA teams, youth tournaments and community events.

Matt Shasby, the UAA Seawolves hockey coach, is helping to spread the news.

“The university is going to be working with outside sources as well as within our own facilities groups to begin the plans of a new facility,” Shasby announced.

The new community athletic complex would include a renovation of the Seawolf Sports Complex and new additions, including a turf field and another sheet of ice.

The Seawolf Hockey Alliance said the new arena would accommodate much larger crowds than the current facility.

“This arena will comfortably seat more than 3,000 spectators so everyone could come to appreciate and enjoy the excellent level of hockey the UAA Seawolf team provides,” the Alliance wrote in a March 20 message on its website.

The news comes months after the hockey, gymnastics, and alpine ski programs raised millions to avoid being eliminated completely due to state budget cuts. The hockey program itself raised $3 million mostly from public and private donations to stay alive.

Shasby said it’s not immediately clear where all the funding for the project will come from.

“It’s going to be a venture to find the funds for this building to be paid for,” Shasby said, estimating the project would cost between $50 and $75 million.

Private investments and some state funding outside of the UAA budget will build the facility, and Shasby says they are open to exploring “any, and all options.”

Shasby is also unsure who would pay for operating and maintenance expenses if the plan is brought to life, but stated that the proposed complex was about more than UAA or the UAA hockey team; it would make Anchorage a better place to live and be a part of. The finished project is designed to be available for public use.

“Finalizing and really making this a community complex with a pool, and a gym, and two sheets of ice and a turf will make our community a better place to be a part of, as well as our university,” he said.

The renovation of the Seawolf Sports Complex and the addition of new facilities would provide more opportunities for residents to stay active year-round, as it becomes increasingly difficult to play sports indoors in public spaces in Anchorage. Acquiring public sports facilities has been part of the municipality’s solution to combat homelessness in the city.

“The rinks in town are old,” Shasby said. “Ben Boeke (Ice Rink) and Dempsey (Anderson Ice Rink), they are built in the ‘80s. The Sullivan Arena is now out of commission.”

Despite being the only public university in the state, finding support for the new facility will also face a barrier that all higher education in Alaska faces: stretching limited dollars and resources to educate Alaskans of all ages.

However, Shasby remains hopeful that a mixture of private investment and state funding can make the proposed community athletic complex a reality.

“The university has the land, and whoever can come up with the funds potentially can operate and maintain that facility. It’s not necessarily going to be a university facility and so they’re not going to be on the hook for all the costs and maintenance,” Shasby said.