Last Thursday, UAA Seawolves Alumni Eric Tuott sent me (for my perusal) his submission to the Anchorage Daily News Compass page which is their section for opinion from the community. The piece focuses on the proposition that the approved new UAA Sports Center include an ice rink.
As approved now there are no plans to include a new "home" for UAA hockey and the Seawolves would continue to play their games at Sullivan Arena. Here's are some of the most relevant highlights and I encourage everyone to go read the full piece by clicking this link.
Seawolf hockey desperately needs a new home, and UAA Athletic Director Steve Cobb has stated that a long-term goal is to eventually get one. But how does he plan on doing that? The University Board of Regents won't request funding for a stand-alone project, and even if they did, it would be a much lower priority than building more educational facilities.
The simplest, most cost-effective solution to this problem is to incorporate the ability to have ice into the proposed sports center. Not a full time ice rink, but the infrastructure under the floor to allow the complex to be converted to an ice rink when not being used as a basketball/volleyball court.
An on-campus rink could allow UAA to keep 100 percent of parking, concessions, and ticket revenues, as well as utilize a large pool of student labor. The potential increase in revenue would be a windfall to all UAA sports and put less pressure on the university to provide funding for athletics.
Let's not kid ourselves here -- recruits are not impressed when they come to games at Sullivan Arena. New arenas located right on campus offer significant recruiting advantages over the Sullivan Arena. Who could blame Anchorage's most promising hockey players for choosing schools like Denver University, Duluth or North Dakota over UAA?
Nickel-and-diming, short-term solutions for Seawolf hockey have gone on too long, but now UAA has been given an opportunity that could bring stability to the entire athletic department. Whether the rink's omission was by oversight or intent, there is still time to act on this before plans are set in stone. For a fraction of the sports center's total construction cost, changes can still be made that will bring Seawolf hockey where it belongs: the UAA campus.
I know that Eric and a group of other alumni support this proposal. It makes good sense to me as well with only one caveat. There needs to be at least 5,000 to 6,000 seats in the joint. I do not know how far along the existing design process is for the new sports center. But I can imagine time is an issue here as well. A redesign to incorporate 5 to 6 thousand seats and the other necessary changes for hockey is no small undertaking.
I will add that I'm aware that this proposal isn't in line with what the UAA Administration would like to see. They do want a hockey rink on campus. I'm assuming they aren't pursuing it for a multitude of political reasons. I have spoken here numerous times about a new arena for Seawolves Hockey. We all know it would be a better situation to get one on campus. Efforts like Eric's are important to move the discussion forward which seems (and I use the word "seems" purposefully) to have been stifled somewhere at the UAA level.
I personally am at a point with regard to discussion about a new arena where I'm all about the Missourian viewpoint. Show me. This year's team is showing the community what it is capable of even with what was unsatisfactory overall attendance at the Sullivan Arena this season. They fully deserve that the university of which they are part back them by taking an active role to bring a new ice arena to the campus.
Write letters to the powers that be. Advocate on behalf of the players. Get involved and help make it come true. Please. And thank you in advance for doing so.