Great Alaska Shootout enters 39th year but a 40th isnt guaranteed

first_imgUAA guard Suki Wiggs drives toward the net against San Jose State’s Gary Williams, Jr. during the 2015 Great Alaska Shootout. (Photo by Josh Edge/APRN)The GCI Great Alaska Shootout basketball tournament tips off this week in Anchorage. This is the tournament’s 39th year, but a 40th is not guaranteed as the university grapples with a shrinking budget.Listen NowThe University of Alaska Anchorage’s women’s basketball team will open up its tournament Tuesday against Portland.The Seawolves are coming off a second-place finish at last season’s Division II National ChampionshipsAnd UAA Athletic Director Keith Hackett said even with several new players, the team’s expectations are high.“I think what the secret is gonna be now is getting them all to mesh and play together like the team last year,” Hackett said. “But I think this team is equally as close right now.”Teams from Missouri State University and Southern California round out the women’s field.The UAA men’s basketball team will face the University of Buffalo on Wednesday in the first round.Overall, Hackett said this year’s field is the best he’s seen during his tenure.“I think all around we have five or six teams playing in the tournament this year that won 20 games or more last year,” Hackett said.Drake University, Iona College, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Oakland University, U.C. Davis and Weber State are also competing for the men’s Shootout title.Hackett said ESPN’s decision following the 2007 tournament to part ways with the Great Alaska Shootout has made recruiting teams difficult, despite the Shootout’s current national television contract with the CBS Sports Network.“There’s a lot of people that watch it, but it’s difficult to get some teams to think about coming to Anchorage just because it’s so far north and they have so many other options,” Hackett said.This year, Hackett said there are 42 preseason tournaments teams can choose from.Kackett said another limiting factor in convincing teams to travel to Alaska is how much the Shootout pays.“We have to pay a guarantee to get teams here, and they range from $40,000-70,000, depending on distance and quality,” Hackett said. “So yeah, we have to pay, but by comparison, other tournaments are paying $150,000 or $200,000 to teams to come.”Those numbers are specific to the men’s teams. Hackett said the guarantee for the women’s side of the tournament typically ranges from $15,000 to $20,000 per team.“Depends on who’s here,” Hackett said. “If we got a team like Connecticut and if we had them come we’d have to probably pay them a little bit more, but paying them more we are gonna draw more people to see Connecticut or Florida State or someone like that.”“But the women’s teams have been a little bit less because, to be honest, the women’s teams haven’t demanded that higher amount, so who knows, in the future they may.”Whether it’s $15,000 or $70,000, that guarantee needs to at least cover a team’s travel expenses – including airfare, hotels, and meals.Hackett expects the Shootout to bring in around $450,000 in revenue this year, with the rest of the money for the tournament’s $775,000 tab coming out of the athletic department’s budget.Even though the tournament doesn’t break even from ticket sales and sponsorships, Hackett said the economic impact stretches beyond the university.“There are probably 150-200 rooms being rented during Thanksgiving week due in large measure because of the Shootout,” Hackett said. “All those people are eating in restaurants.”The tournament is entering its 39th year and has evolved into a cornerstone of Alaska’s sports scene, but with declining state funding and budgetary belt tightening across the university, Hackett said a 40th is not a guarantee.“Our economy in Alaska is hitting everybody, so we’re gonna do everything we can to keep this around, and everything is on the table,” Hackett said.The future of the Shootout should become more clear during the upcoming Legislative session, as lawmakers finalize the state budget.But, for this year, the tournament is a go.The women’s tournament tips off Tuesday, and the men’s opens Wednesday.last_img

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