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Alaska Losing Sports Events and Teams

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USC Trojans’ 67-54 victory over Portland in the women’s championship game at the GCI Great Alaska Shootout in the Alaska Airlines Center on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. Photo: Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News

At one time, when oil prices were high, Alaska was going after sporting events. The Winter Olympics was the big prize but Alaska never got the event. However, there were two minor league hockey teams – one in Fairbanks and the other in Anchorage – and a major college basketball tournament: The Great Alaska Shootout.

All three are or will be gone. That event, the Great Alaska Shootout, will be disappearing following this year’s Thanksgiving games. The reason is money, last year’s event lost nearly a half million dollars and the University of Alaska educational system has seen major cutbacks in funding including the athletic program.

The cache of selling Anchorage on national cable TV is no longer worth the price. At one time, the Anchorage event attracted the very best college basketball teams. But what was once a big event has become lost in a sea of a whole slate of pre-season games. There is nothing special about going to Anchorage for the college basketball business. The industry goes to where money is available, money that is divided among many hands except the stars of the show, the college basketball players who get nothing for playing except maybe an almost fully paid scholarship for one season.

It seems Alaska is undergoing a sports change. The Sled Dog Race isn’t going anywhere but the race lost its title sponsor. But the race organizers think the bank company who had partnered with the event dropped the marketing agreement because animal rights groups complained about what they perceived as animal abuse. Those groups include People for Ethical Treatment of Animals and the ASPCA. The race organizers continue to look for a 2018 title sponsor. There seems to be one event that is entirely unique to Alaska that will continue. That the June 21 first day of summer Midnight Sun Game in Fairbanks featuring college baseball players. That event is not going away.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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