UAA's Shootout prepares for Sullivan Arena swan song
It's swan-song time for the Shootout and Sullivan Arena. With UAA's new Alaska Airlines Center scheduled to open next fall, the Carrs-Safeway Great Alaska Shootout will make its final run at Sullivan Arena this week, UAA's new athletic director said last week. The move will take the Shootout out of an aging, city-owned arena miles away from UAA and put it in a gleaming new building right on campus. It will put UAA's signature event at UAA for the first time since the tournament began in 1978. "There'll be a lot of synergies at work in that new building," athletic director Keith Hackett, who said there remains "some formal things we have to do from a contractual standpoint" with Sullivan, but the plan is to put the Shootout in the new... "It may give the tournament the spark we need to get it going in the right direction financially," Hackett said. Over the years, Sullivan Arena has played host to some of basketball's biggest stars, from Len Bias to Ray Allen to Dwayne Wade, and nearly all of its marquee coaches -- Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Bob Knight, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams and John... For its 31st and final act at Sullivan (the first five tournaments were held at Buckner Fieldhouse), the Shootout will feature plenty of storylines: New rules that should impact the game for players and fans, a million-dollar promotion you need a... The longtime sponsor, Vito's Auto Sales, dropped the promotion earlier this year but it was picked up by GCI, associate athletic director Tim McDiffett said. Another new promotion will give away two Alaska Airlines MVP gold memberships. Both promotions require that people are present to win, which could be a way to pump up attendance at a tournament that has lost its fan base over the years. "We're trying out some new technology that makes it fun and interactive and easy to use," McDiffett said. The Shootout's decline in popularity is a result of the increased number of preseason tournaments, which in turn is a result of relaxed NCAA rules that make an invitation to play in the Shootout far less coveted than it once was.