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UAA Needs $2.7 million Before Opening Alaska Air Center

Published On: Feb 05 2014 09:48:33 PM AKST   Updated On: Feb 05 2014 09:51:59 PM AKST

UAA Needs $2.7 million Before Opening Alaska Air Center


The Alaska Airlines Center on the University of Alaska-Anchorage campus is set to open this summer but the $2.7 million needed to pay for the arena is not yet approved.

On Wednesday, UAA’s "statewide" student body wasn’t lobbying for the funding.

About three dozen students returned from Juneau, where they shared their top priorities for the university system funding with lawmakers. Funding for the Alaska Airlines Center didn’t make the top three on their list. The students say it’s because it’s an issue doesn't affect students statewide.

Instead, the students said top priorities should include finishing the UAA and UAF engineering buildings currently under construction; upgrading the UAF heat and power plants; and putting money into issues like making academic advisers mandatory.

The Alaska Airlines center has already cost more than $100 million, and is set to be complete sometime in mid-July. Athletic director Keith Hackett said Governor Sean Parnell would like to see the $2.7 million operating budget for the center cut nearly in half, to about $1.6 million.

Hackett said if another $1.1 million isn't supported, then upcoming events will be affected.

"We're hopeful, we're always going to be hopeful, that the funding is going to be put into place,” he said. “We intend to move in and have a great year and (have a) grand opening.”

Drew Lemish, the UAA student body president, said students aren’t finished with their work in communicating their needs to lawmakers.

“We do have a chance to go back to Juneau in the coming weeks in the session to advocate specifically for UAA and not for the coalition of students leaders,” Lemish said. “So it definitely is a priority for UAA.”

Hackett said the president of UAA did go to Juneau to express that the center should be a top priority for funding.