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Alaska Airlines Center opens its doors

Visitors leave the new Alaska Airlines Center as work continues on the facility on Tuesday, August 12, 2014, at UAA. Coaches and administrators have been moving into offices there, and the volleyball team held the first-ever practice in the building Tuesday morning.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Volleyball players hold the first-ever official UAA team practice in the new Alaska Airlines Center on Tuesday, August 12, 2014.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
The new Alaska Airlines Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus will be used for concerts, graduations as well as sporting events beginning this Fall. Tuesday, August 5, 2014.
Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News
General manager Chris Orheim of Global Spectrum said the company that will operate the new Alaska Airlines Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus that will be used for concerts and graduations as well as sporting events.
Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News
The UAA volleyball team holds the first-ever practice in the new Alaska Airlines Center as work continues in the background on Tuesday morning, August 12, 2014, at UAA. "It's a wonderful facility!," said head coach Chris Green afterwards. "We're happy to make the move."
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Mike Dunham

The new Alaska Airlines Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage features a 5,000-seat fishbowl arena for sports events but will also be a venue for concerts, graduations and more. 

There's good news for music fans: The center has been designed with acoustics in mind, said general manager Chris Orheim during a walk-through the building this month. The back wall of polished aluminum, decorated with a 36-foot-tall Seawolf logo made from LED lights that change color, is positioned so that sound will bounce off it. The speakers being tested during a pre-grand-opening tour sounded clear and clean. In addition, all seats appeared to have good lines of sight to the floor, which isn’t the case in some of the farther recesses of the Sullivan.

Visitors to the center will also have the option of ordering food that’s “a little better than you might expect” at a ballpark, Orheim added. The Varsity Sports Grill, overlooking the arena, will feature beer and wine along with a menu that includes, among other things, artisan pizza. The restaurant will be open seven days a week. It’s expected that it will be its own destination, game or no game. Patrons will have free parkings.

Among the non-sports events planned for the grand-opening festivities is the Taste of Alaska charity benefit for the UAA Emergency Food Fund, with top local chefs dishing out their best entrees and desserts. A Food Truck Rodeo is planned for the parking lot and will coincide with a drive-in movie projected on the walls of the building, the sound carried via a low-power FM radio signal.

Read more: Big venue on campus: UAA shows what's in store for new sports center