Assembly covers Sullivan Arena deficit, supports on-site consumption

The Anchorage Assembly chambers at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage.
The Anchorage Assembly chambers at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage. (Staff photo)

Anchorage is scrambling to cover hefty financial loses at the Sullivan Arena that are only expected to get worse. The sports complex ran a large deficit 2016, even before news came earlier this year that the Alaska Aces franchise would be shutting down.

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During it’s Tuesday night meeting, the Anchorage Assembly voted unanimously to spend $588,999 to cover an operating deficit and reimbursing “advances for revenue shortfalls.”

Because of contract terms with management company SMG through 2020, Assembly member John Weddleton said the body has few options but to appropriate the money from the areawide general fund.

“For people who are watching and wondering why the heck we’re doing this,” Weddleton said, “we have a contract with SMG that requires us to cover any loses that they have. So this is unpleasant for all of us, but we don’t really have any choice.”

 Given the departure of the Aces and the facility’s bleak fiscal outlook, the Assembly is asking the mayor’s administration to provide quarterly updates on its status.

The head of the city’s Economic and Community Development office, Chris Schutte, told the Assembly SMG is looking at new business opportunities for the space, including filling a gap left in indoor sports since the collapse of The Dome sports complex this winter.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution in support of on-site consumption for cannabis. The issue is set to go before the state’s Marijuana Control Board at its meeting this week in Fairbanks, where three different proposals are on the agenda.

The non-binding resolution passed seven to four, and “strongly supports” the state adopting regulations that could give tourists and patrons a place to consume cannabis products outside private residences. Under municipal rules public consumption of marijuana products is banned.