Alaska Airlines Center starting to take off

Alaska Airlines Center is underway and rearing to go. Photo by Nita Mauigoa
Alaska Airlines Center is underway and rearing to go. Photo by Nita Mauigoa

As the Seawolf student body makes its way back to UAA for the 2013 fall semester, they will notice significant progress on the latest addition to the main campus: the under-construction Alaska Airlines Center.

The $109 million project isn’t slated to finish construction until June 2014, but a sneak peek of the arena proved it should be well worth the wait.

The staff of The Northern Light was given an exclusive tour of the brand new 196,000 square-foot sports facility and the consensus opinion fell somewhere between awe and wonder. This is a modern, state-of-the-art performance center and a game-changing addition to the Seawolf community.

The arena features a 5,600-seat performance bowl for basketball and volleyball, but also houses a separate auxiliary gym for gymnastics competition practice. Currently, the UAA gymnastics team has to travel off campus to practice.

Modern architectural features surround the two showcase performance areas.

The southern end of the arena features five massive windows that will allow natural light into the performance bowl. It can also be closed for appropriate events. A glass window encloses the northern end of the bowl and looks over the central walkway that separates the performance bowl and the auxiliary gym.

Even with the core of the arena still primarily hollowed out, one can gauge how massive the project is by standing in the skeleton of the structure as it comes together.

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The size of the Alaska Airlines Center allows the university to house many branches of athletic needs all under one roof. The arena will act as an all-in-one facility for nearly every aspect of the athletic department.

Box office and concessions

The Wells Fargo Sports Complex has always been accessible, but it leaves a lot to be desired come game day — especially at the front door and snack line. The Alaska Airlines Center has areas specifically designed for a box office and features up-to-date concession areas throughout the building.

Locker rooms and training facilities

All Seawolf athletic departments will benefit from the newest technology and modern facilities for training and conditioning that the new complex will provide.

A hydrotherapy pool equipped with underwater treadmills and rehab equipment will make a huge difference for student-athletes. The arena will also feature student-accessible fitness and workout areas, an upgrade from the converted racquetball and squash courts at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

There will also be enough space for each sport to have its own uniquely designed locker rooms, as well as designated visiting team locker rooms, which will all be located on the bottom floor.

 Administrative offices and storage

The second floor of the new arena will be home to administrative offices for the entire athletic department and will include conference rooms and media space. The second floor also has access to the five major suites overlooking the performance bowl. The offices for the volleyball and basketball coaches will be overlooking the performance bowl as well.

The arena will also provide much-needed storage space for the athletic department, something that was always hard to come by on campus.

As construction continues on this massive undertaking, fans of the Green and Gold can start patiently anticipating the unveiling of an enormous, glowing Seawolves logo that should leave opponents with little doubt about whose gym they’re in.

Even with 10 months left until completion, Seawolf students, alumni and fans can rest assured that their sports programs will have a safe home for years to come.