News of GCI Great Alaska Shootout ending a loss for fans
Even though Abigail Slater has only been to the GCI Great Alaska Shootout once, Thursday's news came as a shock.
"What? This is the last one?" Slater said when she heard about the event ending this November.
The GCI Great Alaska Shootout started in 1978 as the Seawolf Classic and it's brought college athletes for the last 40 years to Alaska. However, officials with the athletics department at the University of Alaska Anchorage say budget concerns are at the core of why they have to end the event this year.
"It is difficult to see it go," said interim athletic director Tim McDiffett. "Finance and budget are the main reason. It was once a profit center but it's not anymore. It's not a secret that the budget situation for the event have gone in the wrong direction. It's not sustainable."
Last year the event lost $477,000.
"People just seemed really excited to be there," Slater said about the time she went. "It was the most packed I've seen the Alaska Airlines Center personally."
Slater's husband also works during these games.
"The energy in the booth, the energy in the crowd, getting people to do the dance cams and stuff like that -- he says it's one of the best crowds he gets all year," she said.
Slater and her husband are both from Anchorage and she said it will be tough knowing Alaska's Novembers won't be the same after this year.
The final GCI Great Alaska Shootout gets under way Nov. 21 with women’s first-round action featuring Binghamton vs. Tulsa (5:30 p.m.) and Maryland Eastern Shore vs. UAA (8 p.m.). The 2017 men’s tournament begins Nov. 22, with Cal Poly, Central Michigan, College of Charleston, CSU Bakersfield, Idaho, Sam Houston State and Santa Clara joining the host Seawolves.
Sports director Dave Goldman contributed to the story.