SBD/June 7, 2011/Events and Attractions

Alaska Proposes $2.5M Subsidy To Help Great Alaska Shootout Attract Teams, TV Deal

Alaska Shootout basketball tournament brings in $5M annually to Anchorage
Alaska's proposed $3.2B capital budget "includes a three-year, $2.5 million subsidy" to the Great Alaska Shootout men's basketball tournament "to help it lure elite teams, big crowds and TV carriers to the floundering event once again," according to Jeff Eisenberg of YAHOO SPORTS. The Alaska legislature "deemed the Shootout worthy of state funds because the tournament annually brings in more than $5 million to Anchorage at a time of year when the tourism industry suffers from the frigid winter weather." Univ. of Alaska-Anchorage AD Steve Cobb said, "The money is very important to us because quite frankly, we thought for a couple years we might not even survive. We're going to try to boost attendance and ticket sales by making it easier for our fellow citizens to come enjoy the event." Eisenberg wrote the Shootout's "steep decline became inevitable in 2007 when ESPN chose not to renew its TV contract." ESPN from '06-09 "launched six preseason tournaments, from the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, to the 76 Classic in Anaheim, to the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu." The Shootout's "new TV deal with Fox College Sports doesn't provide teams nearly the exposure of the ESPN-run events." Cobb: "ESPN and the NCAA are both thousand-pound gorillas. It's very hard to compete against both of them." Eisenberg noted the Shootout's '12 field is "not set yet, but Cobb expects more competitive appearance fees to enable him to land two top 30 programs." He is "confident the promise of a stronger field will help him negotiate 'a stable, solid TV deal'" (, 6/4). The AP noted the Shootout is the "longest-running regular-season college basketball tournament in the nation." It has been "held every Thanksgiving week in Anchorage since 1978" (AP, 6/2).

NEW LAIR FOR THE SEAWOLVES? UAA Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Bill Spindle Friday said that "groundbreaking for UAA's $109 million on-campus arena could happen this summer." In Alaska, Beth Bragg noted the arena would "replace the school's aging Wells Fargo Sports Complex, which opened in 1978 -- right after UAA joined the NCAA," and would be "home to 11 of UAA's 12 teams." Sullivan Arena, "which seats about 6,500 for hockey and more for basketball, would remain the home of UAA hockey and the Great Alaska Shootout." The "long hurdle" following the UAA Board of Regents' approval of the project "is a potential veto" by Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell. About a third of the project's funding, or $34M, "would come from the capital budget passed by the Legislature." Spindle: "We're waiting to see what the governor does, but no matter what he does, we're going to begin the design process. Our goal is to have this built by the summer of 2014" (ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, 6/5). Also in Alaska, Dermot Cole wrote when Parnell "starts looking for items to veto, he should not overlook the extra $34 million Anchorage lawmakers slipped into the budget to increase the price" of the arena. Promoters of the project want a "building capable of seating 5,600 people instead of 3,600 people," but UAA "draws 600-900 people to most of its home basketball games, excluding the Great Alaska Shootout" (FAIRBANKS DAILY NEWS-MINER, 6/4).
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