Anchorage Wolverines to play in Sullivan Arena for 2024-25 season

The Anchorage Wolverines will play the 2024-25 season in Sullivan Arena, the North American Hockey League franchise announced Monday.

The Wolverines will inhabit the arena that was home to the Alaska Aces for more than two decades and was the home ice of the UAA Seawolves hockey program from 1983-2019.

With the move to Sullivan, the Wolverines hope to recast the glory days of hockey in Anchorage, where fans flooded the arena to watch games.

“Who can hear a cowbell?” asked co-owner Aaron Schutt to the attendees of a Monday news conference at the arena, referencing the famed Cowbell Crew that animated the crowd at Aces games.

“We have a tremendous fan base. We have a great team. We know that we’re going to be back to those days where this building is full, where the excitement of our fan base inspires our team and that we have the opportunity to use this building to the full capacity that it has.”

The ownership group said the team was founded with plans to play in Sullivan but haven’t had the opportunity to use the facility until recently. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the arena was transitioned for use as a homeless shelter. After nearly four years in that capacity, it was relaunched earlier this year as an events arena, operated by O’Malley Ice & Sports.

A Wolverines official said the move will allow the team to expand its fan base significantly. The team played its first three seasons at Ben Boeke Ice Arena, with a capacity of less than 1,000.


Jay Frawner, who along with his wife Jena, are two of the team’s six-person ownership group, said the franchise hopes to be able to draw between 2,500 and 3,000 fans each game.

“We don’t really know what our potential is yet,” he said. “At Ben Boeke, a lot of people didn’t come because they’d get up and get a beer and then lose their seat. Here, there are backs on your seats and bathrooms and good concessions. I think the sky’s the limit. We’ve just got to keep on winning.”

So far through three seasons, the Wolverines have had great success on the ice. In their inaugural year, the rookie franchise reached the Robertson Cup finals. After missing the playoffs in year two, the Wolverines were back in the Robertson Cup semifinals last season after winning the Midwest Division and dominating in-state competition.

Venues and attendance varies significantly from team to team in the NAHL. Some teams regularly draw between 2,000 and 3,000 while others regularly draw less than 800.

Schutt said Sullivan allows the team to accommodate the top end of those attendance numbers with improved seating, concessions and restrooms.

“It’s a huge step forward for us,” he said. “It’s just a little better game experience for our fans. We know based on the history of this town with the Aces and UAA that more than 1,500 people want to see hockey on any given night.”

Aside from the hockey teams that have called Sullivan home it has also hosted a number of major events and concerts, from acts like Metallica, Elton John and Johnny Cash.

Sullivan Arena features an Olympic-size ice sheet, which is wider than a standard sheet and allows for more open-ice skating.

Wolverines general manager Keith Morris said the Wolverines had two plans moving forward on building next year’s team depending on the ice sheet. He also anticipates the building will be a selling point in recruiting players to the team.

“We’ve built our team around the ability to skate and have skill and and be competitive,” he said.

Steve Agni, who manages O’Malley Ice & Sports, said the move will also open up some ice time for other user groups.

“There’s no question this will add additional hours,” he said. “And in the case of some users, and I’m thinking of the speed skaters specifically, because it’s a larger oval, It’ll be more useful and productive for them.”

Wolverines officials said the team sold out a majority of its games at Boeke and the move allows the team to offer a variety of tickets and different price ranges.

“We’ll be able to make more money on ticket sales,” Frawner said. “The tickets are going to be cheaper than they were over (at Boeke), which we had to just kind of keep the machine going, you know, so the tickets were quite a bit higher than most other facilities. ... We have potential to grow it now. And I think that was the main deal.”

While the deal is currently for the 2024-25 season, Agni anticipates it to continue to be the team’s home going forward.

The team gets a cut of concessions and will have a team apparel store located in the southwest corner of the building. There are 28 home games on the schedule for 2024-25 starting on Oct. 11.

On Wednesday at noon, the Wolverines’ “Gretzky Deal” opens to the public. Fans can put $99 down that will give them priority seating once season tickets go live. Season tickets are on sale to the public starting Aug. 15 at noon.

General admission tickets will be $15 and there will be reserved seating available for $25. Single-game tickets go on sale Sept. 1.

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Chris Bieri

Chris Bieri is the sports and entertainment editor at the Anchorage Daily News.