Sullivan Arena may very well be the center of the sports world for the great state of Alaska. Located just a bit to the southeast of downtown Anchorage, the venue serves as the home of the University of Alaska-Anchorage hockey team, the annual Great Alaska Shootout (college basketball), as well as numerous concerts and other shows.
It is also the home of the Alaska Aces of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). The team is affiliated with the St. Louis Blues of the NHL.
You can generally expect close to a packed house, and the atmosphere, like many venues of the ECHL, can be electric.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food is pretty close to terrible with the exception of the roasted nuts stand with its intoxicating aromas. Bags will cost you $5 with the typical selection of walnuts, almonds, pecans, and cashews.
Outside of that, you can find burritos, nachos ($5.75), corn dogs ($3), fried chicken strips, and fries among the usual options. All of these are overpriced, and poorly executed, so you will definitely want to eat before or after a game at one of the establishments recommend below.
They do have a beer garden which offers the local Alaskan Amber ($7), and plastic bottles of Miller Lite and Budweiser.
The Alaska Aces have had decent success since becoming members of the ECHL in 2003. They won the Kelly Cup in 2006, and have been consistent playoff participants.
While Alaska is not one of the top as far as attendance in the ECHL, they do draw their fair share of fans, and the arena definitely can get loud.
There is a large video board on one side which shows the fans all of the replays of goals and other exciting plays.
There are dozens of bars and restaurants within the immediate vicinity of Sullivan Arena, so fans should have no trouble finding a place to meet their tastes on a particular night.
Twin Dragon Mongolian BBQ is a popular spot just north a bit on Gambell Street. They are known for their excellent service and the BBQ bar, where any lover of Mongolian BBQ can glutton themselves to their heart's content.
Another solid option is Sorrento's which serves traditional Italian favorites as well as pizza. Pasta dishes will cost you somewhere between $16-$18 in general. It's a good place to fill up so you don't end up with one of the Sullivan Arena corn dogs.
They love their hockey in the Last Frontier state. Since this is the only professional sports team in Alaska, they receive a following throughout the state, which is unique, as most ECHL teams have an ardent local following, but not much else.
You can expect a level of hockey intelligence that is more predominant than many hockey experiences, and those reactions to the subtle plays (rather than just fights and goals) in great numbers really makes this experience a lot of fun.
There is parking available in the lot on-site for $6 per vehicle, but it is extremely limited, so if you want a spot, be sure to arrive earlier than you would in other cases.
The other option is the People Mover, as there is a bus stop immediately in front of Sullivan Arena (at 16th Street).
Tickets are unfortunately available through Ticket Master, and range in cost between $10-$35. It's a small enough arena that you should buy the minimum, as you will still have a great view of the action. With those lovely extra charges you should expect that $15 will be the minimum you pay for a seat. With the somewhat cramped parking and less than average concessions, you're left with an experience that doesn't quite live up to the price.
One additional point for the absolute beauty of the city of Anchorage. If you're in the area as a visitor, and love hockey, then it is probably worth the trip to Sullivan Arena, but the casual fans can probably skip it, and enjoy the rest of the city instead.
Sullivan Arena is by far the largest arena in the state of Alaska. With a seating capacity of roughly 6,400 people, it plays host to many of the state's major events, from trade shows to concerts. However, it is also the state's hockey haven, playing host to the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves of the WCHA and the Alaska Aces of the ECHL.
While the arena is often regarded as one that is in desperate need of renovation, the atmosphere of an Alaska Aces game makes it worth visiting.
Food and Beverage - 1
The food is not great, period. It is overpriced (most foods are upwards of $3) and the quality doesn't justify the high price tag. Options include chicken strips, fries, burritos, and soft pretzels. However, the food is quite terrible. In particular, the soft pretzels are hard, and the burritos taste stale and don't have any real flavor.
Beer is also quite expensive, running at $6.25 a bottle. Options include Miller Lite and Alaskan Amber.
Atmosphere - 4
The arena's layout is poorly executed. The concourse areas are narrow, and in a sellout crowd, it's not fun to have to weave through a ton of people with no room whatsoever.
The bathrooms are another sore spot for me as well. The bathrooms are small, and there are only two bathrooms in the entire arena, which causes a lot of long lines. Also, the bathrooms have troughs as well, which is gross.
Despite the poor layout of the arena, the actual atmosphere of the game is great, thanks in part to the great P.A announcer by the name of Bob Lester. He makes sure that the fans are involved the entire game by having them do all sorts of chants. One such chant includes having the Dry Side (the side where beer is not sold) chant "Go,", while the Wet Side (the side where beer is sold), yell back "Aces!" This repeats five times and then the crowd bursts into a long cheer.
Neighborhood - 3
Surrounding the arena is a variety of restaurants that are a short walk away, which makes it easy for a fan to find a place to get a pre-game meal.
In particular, Twin Dragon Mongolian BBQ is just to the north of the arena. The buffet is great, and there's also an option to make your own barbecue. All you do is pick out what you want, give it to the chef, and he will prepare it for you.
Fans - 4
The fans here are known to get loud, and they often ring small cowbells to show support for the home team. Since the building is concrete, it gets loud, fast.
The fans here are knowledgeable about hockey, which makes the game an exciting experience for any hockey fan. One thing that I like is that the fans will react to subtle plays by the home team (such as clearing the puck on a penalty kill or blocking a shot), which is a hockey fan's dream.
The team also has a statewide following, as many games are broadcast by a local cable network as well.
Access - 2
The stadium is close by downtown, about a ten minute drive. Parking is $6 as well, but the lot only holds about 2,000 cars, so be sure to arrive early.
If parking runs out, there are several smaller lots that can also hold cars as well. Be sure to plan ahead, as parking can run out very quickly if there is a sellout crowd.
Return on Investment - 3
Unfortunately, tickets are quite expensive, ranging from $10-$35. Add in $6 parking and overly expensive concessions, and it could end up being around $40 for one person to go to a game. However, the experience is worth it for die hard hockey fans as well as families.
Extras - 2
Two extra points for the mascot, Boomer. He's very personable and he's great with kids, which makes the experience more fun for families.
612 East 15th Ave
Anchorage, AK 99501
610 E Fireweed Ln
Anchorage, AK 99503
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