April 8, 2018 marks one year since the final game that the Alaska Aces played before the team was terminated.
The Alaska Aces, previously known as the Anchorage Aces prior to 2003, competed in three different leagues during their 28 active seasons, including the ECHL.
Established in 1989, the Aces experienced a variety of success, including winning five regular season titles, eight division titles, four conference championships and three Kelly Cup championships.
Last year’s termination of the team was the result of declining success and budget cuts.
Anchorage locals, such as former UAA student and avid Aces fan Jon Mobley, were initially shocked at the decision, especially since the Aces served as Alaska’s only professional sports team.
Mobley used to frequent the games about twice a week when they had home games. Since their termination, Mobley has been filling his time with other athletic events.
“I’ve dropped into a few games of UAA, but they just didn’t have the same feel, atmosphere and people I expected at the Aces games. They’re just different. I do spend more time watching Rage City Rollergirls, though,” Mobley said. “They don’t play as often as the Aces did, but now I’m able to attend all their games, both home and away.”
Other long time fans, like former UAA student Alexander Nanez, says he spent more time at UAA hockey games.
Mobley is still holding out hope that one day a professional hockey team will return to Alaska.
“There are a lot of people in this town who are passionate about hockey, and I think it will eventually return. Though no team can replace the Aces. They will go down with the history of Alaska,” Mobley said.
The big question that remained in everyone’s mind last year was the future of the Sullivan Arena, taking into consideration the amount of lost revenue.
The Sullivan was the Aces primary venue for their home games, bringing a majority of the revenue that the arena accumulated. With the loss of the team, Sullivan Arena management scrambled to fill in the gaps and construct new mechanisms for revenue.
Many events and organizations have taken up the opportunity to utilize the Sullivan Arena. UAA hockey alone utilized a majority of weekend openings to play their home games on the ice. In addition, new add-ons and updates have made the facility more practical for many types of events.
SMG General Manager Greg Spears said that the additions should open up a whole new door of renters, including soccer and rugby clubs in Anchorage.
The Sullivan Arena has been updated with a portable stage, new emergency lighting and camera systems, all which are paid for by a 2012 grant from the state legislature.
In addition, the largest change included the addition of a portable turf field that can be installed in 12 hours, expanding the variety of events able to be held at the arena.
Upcoming events at the Sullivan Arena include Alaska Gun Collectors Association Spring Gun Show April 14-15, Ducks Unlimited Spring BBQ/Military Hunter’s Night Out on April 27 and the TRAXXAS Monster Truck Tour May 11-12.