Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stop Talking About It

As far as I can tell nobody that matters much is talking about a new arena for UAA. And after I finish this post that will continue to be the case. But having heard some talk about a new arena I'll happily chime in. I'm all for it ... duh. It makes some sense to me to build a new arena on campus. It makes sense to me for it to seat at least 8,000. It makes sense to me for it to accomodate all of UAA's athletic's. Lastly, it makes sense to me to move this from the talking stage to the planning stage.

For most of UAA's D-I history, UAA has played it's home games at Sullivan Arena. The Sully was built in the early 80's. The "glorydays" of the early 90's saw 6400+ in attendance at virtually every UAA game. There were a couple of years where UAA ranked in the top 5 nationally for average attendance. The Sully's been a good home rink for UAA; it's always had good ice and it can be a damn noisy place when it's full. But with that in mind it's important to remember that the Seawolves certainly haven't outgrown the place. I can't remember the last time the place was packed. No longer is UAA the darling of the local sports community. The Aces have long since gained that blessing.

Building an arena on campus will bring the opportunity to about 900 dormitory students to attend games. Walking five minutes across campus is a helluva lot easier than getting to the Sully. We've never seen any sort of organized student presence at the Sully. There have been times when a few more students showed up and those limited instances tell me that their enthusiasm is regularly missed at the Sully. 500 or 600 students in a section being raucous has an effect on the whole arena. I've seen that happen. When 500 or 600 organized UAF fans (lots of students) showed up at the Sully and humiliated the UAA fanbase. The Sully has lost it allure as a great home ice venue when that sort of thing happens. A campus arena would give UAA the true home ice that it needs in the WCHA and it will provide better access to a cultural right of passage for university students.

What? You say that if UAA were more successful, that those problems wouldn't happen at the Sully? It'd be packed with UAA fans so 500 Squarebankers couldn't take over. Yeah .. perhaps. But the competition for the working man's dollar is going to go to the Aces. Beer and fighting? You think "Joe Hod Carrier" goes to sports to appreciate the amateur athlete? No. They go for the beer and the fights. So even if UAA were successful what we have at the Sully is a very similar situation to other programs with off-campus arena's. Lots of people who are loyal to the program. Lots of people that appreciate amatuer hockey at it's highest level. And (unlike those other WCHA schools with off campus arenas) a few students. Unfortunately people loyal to the program combined with amatuer hockey affcianado's don't exactly make the loudest supporters. And 27 students sitting in the student section of a half empty Sully means virtually nothing. So what I'm saying is if you transfer the current core of UAA supporters (3.5K to 4K) and add a few hundred students in a section then home ice would be more meaningful. Access for the on-campus popualtion is absolutely necessary for UAA hockey. We need the student's enthusiasm.

Put 4500 people into a rink that seats 8000 when they're already playing at a rink that sits 6400? It'll look even more empty! It's true. It will at first. But even just a marginal increase in success and more UAA fans show up. A big increase in success (like home ice for the playoffs) would fill the place. I have little doubt of that. Besides, it would be an arena for the future. A future that already includes D-1 gymnastics and perhaps a possible (probable?) move to D1 basketball at some point. Real planning should start soon. I'd imagine it would take at least 5 years from the start until the opening. Corporate sponsors and politicians need to be wooed to get the ball rolling. So everyone who likes UAA hockey outta get to wooing. Bribe some politicians or whatever it takes. Call up Exxon and tell them we'll name it after Joe Hazelwood if ya havta.


Anonymous said...


Do you know if Cobb has ever talked about the possibility of a new on-campus ice arena?

You'd think with the amount of money the state has wracked up in oil money this year, they'd fork some over to UAA for this.

If UAA were to build an 8,000 seater, I can guarantee you that the Aces would try to rent out space just like the Fresno Falcons did at the brand new arena on the Fresno campus.

In Fresno, the ECHL team was in an older arena like the Sully. When an opportunity to lease out dates at the brand Fresno State campus arena was offered to them, the Fresno Falcons jumped on the deal even though it was very **EXPENSIVE**.

When the Falcons moved, the city of Fresno freaked out and offered the Falcons every good deal offer under the sun to try and keep them as tenants. Didn't work.

I've always thought that if the same thing happened in Anchorage, the muni would have a coronary if UAA worked out a deal with the Aces.

The Aces are busting at the seams with SRO crowds so often that I think they'd pay UAA (just like the Falcons do) to utilize the on-campus facilility.

You should print out your thread and send it to the ADN as a Letter to the Editor!

Hockey fans all over Anchorage would appreciate it ;o)!

And you're right that if the arena were on campus, the attendance would INCREASE. With an enrollment of 18,000+ (growing more each year) - it's TIME!!!


Donald said...

I know specifically that Cobb has been a reciever for such talk but I don't think he's been a transmitter.

I doubt UAA would want to have it's arena be some sort of competition for the Sully. In fact I'd imagine that any sort of "inkling" that it would be competiton would be a bad thing. It'd be reason enough for those interested in keeping the Sully a viable economic proposition to fight against an on campus arena. Losing a core client like UAA is survivable for the Sully I'd think; losing a second core client would just about doom the place.

Priority would also belong to UAA sports so the Aces would have to jump in between UAA Hockey, Basketball, Gymnastics and Volleyball schedules? That might prove difficult.

I guess what I'm thinking is that it would be politically tough to get the place built if it were thought of as competition to the Sully.

I'm happy for the Aces. Many UAA players literally built that team. But they're susceptible to the same fickled Anchorage hockey fan. Win and the place fills up. Lose = "not so much". A successful franchise can turn into a folded franchise pretty quickly sometimes (though the Aces are probably one of the strongest franchises in the ECHL) and their recent success is really a phoenix-like event as it took committed new owners to raise them from the near death state just a couple of years ago.

I know there's talk about the Aces moving up to the AHL. To survive financially in that league they'd need a bigger arena or a big jump in ticket prices. So there could possible be some synergy in that for UAA Hockey and the Aces?

All those rambling thoughts aside though the most important thing about a new arena for UAA isn't the number of seats; it's the location of the arena.

Runninwiththedogs said...

If UAA gets an arena before UMD, I will kill a kitten.

Donald said...

At least there's a real public discourse and attempts to get funded etc in Duluth. You guys are way ahead of UAA to the collective relief of the Duluth SPCA.

Anonymous said...

As I told Suze, I know a person in charge of on-campus construction and she said that they are bumping up the project sooner than expected. They know that they really need the space as the old sportscenter is maxed out when it comes all sports and intermurals etc.

They have already done some preliminary fundraising for it. Look for more public talk about this project in the next year


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response DTP.

Here's the reason for the Aces question and the reference to Fresno.

Having the Falcons forking out rent for that arena; even though the main tenants (Bulldogs?) have priority dates, makes paying the monthly bills on the mega arena all the easier for the campus.

UAA gets first crack at Sully schedule for ice and as long as they play there - they always will.

I guess I'm just looking at the Aces tenant agreement as another way to make the $$ pill easier to swallow.

=IF= the campus builds their own arena, what the city thinks about losing one or both teams doesn't matter. They should have thought of that when the rook started leaking and the place started turning grungy. ;o)

One other thing about rental ice time to the "other team" for the Seawolves would be that it would not create the problem where two teams competed for fans on the same night. (CC and the Colorado Golds comes to mind)

This city easily supports two teams, but put them on the ice on the same night? I dunno. I'd rather see UAA make some money off the Aces when the Wolves aren't skating.

Whatever the case, we desperately need a new arena and I still think you should crank out a Letter to the Editor!! ;-)


Runninwiththedogs said...

Yeah but the state totally screwed us over... Duluth citizens say "yes we want this" and stupid democrats, as always, try to tell them what they "really" want. And what they "really" want is state funding for EVERY SINGLE OTHER ARENA/SPORTS COMPLEX/STADIUM THAT WAS PROPOSED.

Anonymous said...

What I forgot to state earlier is that the city of Anchorage / Mark Begich is fully behind UAA building a new arena. Also I believe that the guy who owns part of the Aces and is an assembly it Dan Coffey? Anyway he wants (demands) that the Aces start to get first scheduling rights to the Sully and he wants the Seawolves out of the Sully. Freaking Primadona - we should get him out of the Assembly!

Anonymous said...

This University will never get a New Facility with Steve Cobb as the A.D. It is time for a new direction at the top of Seawolf athletics.

Anonymous said...

The Steve Cobb saga should be over. The misery should end.

Anonymous said...

When is the Billy Smith article "I am transferring" comimg out to the public.

Anonymous said...

I heard that Smith was not transferring to another college, that he is leaving school behind - period. We will have to wait and see what happens, if he makes a major junior team or what he decides to do.

Anonymous said...

A new Facility is not saving Steve Cobb's Job.

Donald said...

Ahhhh ... Billy Smith again.

You know what? Can't you people just wait another 30 days until we see who comes back to school and who doesn't?

Do you think other schools don't have players that decide they're done with hockey or that don't find themselves fitting in at college?

If Billy shows up (and I "HEAR" he won't be back as well) then he shows up. If he doesn't he doesn't.

Sheesh ...

Donald said...

Why the "hard on" for Steve Cobb?

Let's see what he's done at the helm shall we?

1. Fired Talafous = 22,684,922 bonus points

2. Hired Hill = 1,000 bonus points (we "ALL" wanted an alumni)at beginning ultimately though minus 21,342,881 bonus points awarded

3. Hired Shyiak = +/- bonus points TBD

So by my reckoning Cobb has +1,343,041 bonus points.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 12:44 ~

You're right about Mayor Begich doing what he can for hockey!! (Sorry Runningwdogs, but our mayor is a Democrat and he's a KEEPER!)

If timing permits over the summer, the city will be trying to spruce up that huge wall behind (up above the Sullyvision).

I actually talked to the mayor about it not long ago, and they will try to have that wall re-painted (it NEEDS it!) and 3 huge wooden/painted logos bolted into the wall. (Probably like the ones at the Boeke next door) One each of the team logos of the Aces, the Seawolves, and the AF2 team coming in, the Alaska Wild.

It's not "for sure" that they'll get that done over the summer, but it's on the mayor's round2it list of ways to spruce up the interior.

As far as Dan Coffey goes, he can probably make his demands until he's blue in the face, but there's no way UAA will ever take a back-seat as far as scheduling goes.

The Aces did pretty good this coming season with their dates anyway! They have all weekend games except for 6 I believe. That's pretty amazing for 36 games not including playoffs!

And yeah, Dan Coffey can be a trip at times. Betcha a beer and a dog-pounder that he'll be running for mayor in 3 years. If he wins, it won't be for his tax plan.. it will be because he'll effectively remind residents how he rescued the Aces and made them into National Champs. LOL!

Thanks again DTP for your website! I had laughed so hard when I saw a "Billy Smith" response in the middle of an arena-talk thread!! LOLOLOLOL!!


Donald said...

Thanks as always for the positive comments.

Schlossman said...

For those interested, I posted earlier this week where Billy Smith will end up:

dggoddard said...

Now Billy Smith is leaving? Between the NHL & tranferring there doesn't appear to be enough players to fill up the WCHA...

The trend in new arenas is to offer fewer seats and more club level/luxury boxes. Miami for example will only have 3,500 seats. Keep the tickets scarce and drive up demand.

I'm not familiar with the basketball attendance at UAA, but I would think that they's be looking at 4 - 5,000 range.

You can always add more seats later by adding a false wall like Denver did at Magness Arena.

Donald said...

Glad to have the Smith thing settled. Now I can organize my preseason preview.

I'd assume that if UAA goes with the "luxury box" concept that there'll be a "blogger box". Leastwise there better be. The rest of the arena would appreciate putting me somewhere off by myself!!

Runninwiththedogs said...

I think there's already a box they want to put you in but it doesn't have a very good view of anything. Except the shoes of the guy in the stall next to you.

Donald said...

I guess "they" didn't know that I don't "go" in stalls.

cwlfan said...

Steve Cobb HAS spoken in public regarding a new on-campus arena for UAA. Several times. The site has even been chosen, off Northern Lights across from East High. It is a priority with him and the athletic department. If anonymous would get off his ass and talk to the guy he'd know enough to not sound so stupid in his posts here.

John Hill is a pussy-whipped loser and hasn't had the cajones to show his face in Anchorage since he slithered out of town. He wasn't even on the bench when the Gophers played here. Minnesota deserves him.

Steve Cobb has impressed me and a lot of other people with his dedication to the "STUDENT-athlete" here. He has definitely raised the level of class at the school.

Other than the hockey team, nearly all other UAA programs have progressed since he's come here and the hockey team has not yet had a chance to show Dave Shyiak's recruits. Shyiak's hiring of two of the top assistant coaches in the country should pay dividend in the near future.

As for the positives, the women's basketball team won the Shootout three years ago and has an All-American sophomore on the roster. The men's basketball team has made the playoffs the last two years. The track team (UAA has a track team?) had a number of All-American's this year as has the cross-country ski team. The gmnastics team was bumped up to D-1 and competes well with the big girls.

Despite the horribly cramped conditions at the Sports Center, Cobb has managed to build a quality training room and his scheduling of gym time has been masterful.

UAA is among the top schools in the country in all NCAA divisions when it comes to GPA and graduation rates. Steve Cobb is responsible for this.

This is not all about winning hockey games. I really doubt that Anonymous spends any time on campus. If he did he'd see that things have improved immensely in the time Cobb has been here and the addtion of a new on-campus arena will simply be another example of his ability as an administrator and his dedication to UAA athletics.

I am not now and never have been an employee of UAA and don't know Steve Cobb on any level above my being a UAA fan and booster.

Donald said...

Nicely said. Thanks for posting that.

Anonymous said...

This will be the last year of Steve Cobb at the helm of UAA athletics. Time for a change and it is coming!

Anonymous said...

How about the financial crisis that Steve Cobb has put the athletic department in during his tenure as A.D.

Donald said...

How about being specific. Oh? You can't be specific because you don't have any details?

If you're going to post allegations about someone then least you can do is "attempt" to back them up. I'm not talking fiscal balance sheets but something more than "he sucks" would make people think you are something more than just someone with a hard on for Cobb.

Runninwiththedogs said...

Gross, you didn't have to share your bathroom preferences.


Donald said...

I didn't share my preferences. Just indicated one of them. For the record (and because it grossed you out) ...

Outside > Urinal > Stall

Anonymous said...

Let's see, I just checked
-Anch to Sea on Ak Airlines, Weds to Sun during the 3rd week of Sept is now $680.00
-Anch to Minn on NWA, Weds to Sun during the second week of Nov is now $573.00
-Hockey Attendance is at an all time low
-Shootout attendance is way down
-Where is C
obb squandering all this money?

Donald said...

Yeah ... UAA shouldn't be sending it's student/athletes to outside venues to participate in their various conference games.

Ok .. I'll address your comments without being a total smart ass.

First you indicate that revenue is down. Then you say that Cobb is "squandering all this money"? No doubt he's a brilliant strategist and waited for revenues to decrease before he started "squandering" funds.

Aside from the illogical association between lower revenues and Steve Cobb "squandering" you've invented; you go on to quote airline prices as some sort of evidence that Cobb is mismanaging money? Do you think that the additional cost of travel due to the high price of oil is Cobb's fault?

This is probably the most ridiculous set of assertions that I've ever had to address.

Admit you have a hard on for Cobb and wish he wasn't there. That'd be much preferable to the stupidity of your accusations. I'm all good if someone doesn't think he is the "bee's knees". We all have our opinions. Just please don't try to justify it with this sort of BS.

Anonymous said...

I just talked to my contact over at the University and they said that the funding request for the new on campus sports arena is going to the Board of Regents in late September. They said they are planning on a Students Rec center with it. They would like to keep it at 7500 seats but the power people want 10,000. They agree they want luxury suites and definitely a press box. The whole project is ballparked at 75 million dollars at this point. I am personally very excited about this project and would like to see UAA have some of the nicer facilities in D1 hockey. It may not be on the level of UND or Minnesota's facilities, but it would make some local recruits consider UAA over the lower 48 venues.


Anonymous said...

A nice attempt by Steve Cobb to try and save his job. The Damage is done and he is gone. A new A.D. will be a fresh start at UAA.

Donald said...

Dear Anonymous Obsessive Cobb-hater,

We'll all look very forward to reading all the details about Cobb's evil deeds on YOUR blog. Let us know when you've posted all the juicy details.

Suze said...

52% of UAA athletes earned a 3.0 or better in the classroom, give Cobb the credit he deserves.

UAA established a fund, similar to the PFD, which will ensure all of UAA athletics. The school cannot dip into this fund for other purposes. Just a few short weeks after this was established, the University already had a quarter of a million dollars. Cobb deserves a big pat on the back for starting this fund.

Anonymous said...

The City of Anchorage can all have a party real soon when Steve Cobb is replaced as A.D.

Donald said...

Dear Anon Cobb hater,

Since I'm such a good guy ... the next time you want to come here and post your garbage; you don't have to type "" ... the "www" you keep typing is just as superfluous and redundant as your continuing Cobb hating.

Hope that saves you some time. The internet is a tricky thing. If you need any other help let me know.

AROS114 said...

Doc Cobb should be given credit for starting the Seawolf Legacy fund. The fund is now well in excess of the quarter million.

Donald said...

ACH (AnonCobbHater) is sorta crackin me up. I guess I'm saying sorta because I don't want to encourage him to continue but his classically stereotypical ad hominin baseless hating is what the internet is all about and its funny in a virtual socialogical kinda way.

I've previously asked Dr. Cobb about an interview piece for this blog and he was perfectly accomodating leaving the ball for such an event entirely in my court. Not that ACH has spurred me to action but anyway I'll get off my ass this week and make something happen. If I get my crap together then I'll try to post an .mp3 file as well.

Suze said...

aros114, thank you for your post - I couldn't remember what the fund was called. The Seawolf Legacy Fund. Exactly what UAA needed, and extremely well thought out and planned by Cobb. Keep up the good work Dr. Cobb!

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