The Alaska Aces ownership recently announced that this season will be the final one. This results in a major scheduling issue for the Sullivan Arena, as the Aces have contributed to nearly half of the arena’s revenue since the semi-professional team originated in 1989.
Sullivan Arena hosts a minimum of 38 Aces games per season, which leaves many future dates that will need to be rented.
The folding of the Aces was a decision developed over recent years due to the fact that Anchorage “can no longer generate the kind of revenue necessary to sustain a professional hockey team,” Terry Parks, a managing partner of the Aces, said in a recent press release.
Without a professional sports team to fill the seats of the arena, management of the Sullivan will have to find other teams, concerts or events to book dates.
Sullivan Arena is an SMG-managed facility and is owned by the Municipality of Anchorage. SMG also manages venues such as the Dena’ina and Egan Civic and Convention Centers.
Joe Wooden, general manager of SMG, was not available for comment.
Chris Lawrence, a student assistant in the UAA Department of Athletics, has been a lifetime Aces fan. Lawrence, like many other fans, was heartbroken when he first heard the news that the team was ceasing operations.
Lawrence started going to Aces games back in 2002 with his dad and has been a season ticket holder since 2004.
“The one advantage I can think of is having more open dates for concerts or other events that may have conflicted with weekend Aces games in the past. However, there are a lot of venues that the Sullivan Arena has to compete with in town to entice performers to use the facility. It is a shame the arena recently renovated the seats, speakers, scoreboard, boards and plexiglass and seeing the Aces leave so soon afterward,” Lawrence said.
Like Lawrence, many loyal fans will be looking for other ways to spend their winter nights. Despite the unfortunate outcome of the Alaska Aces, this could offer a great opportunity for UAA hockey.
“Attendance for [UAA hockey] has dwindled over the years as well. However, potentially you could see Aces fans go to UAA games to fill their hockey fix. You’ll likely see more people attending UAA games and if they are more successful on the ice, I feel additional people will possibly grow to support their local team as they did the Aces. This will likely take time, but this is one of the few silver linings from the Aces folding,” Lawrence said.
The Aces ceasing operations will be a major financial obstacle for SMG and the Sullivan Arena, but management remains hopeful that new developments will eventually take place in their facility.