Most of the time it’s about the athletes or the coaches. But every now and then, the constant is recognized. On Thursday, the Alaska Airlines Center received its due.


A building just a couple of years old was named the best place to watch a Division II college basketball games by


“To see the recognition for the Alaska Airlines Center, all the work that went into building the place, to see the fans reaction, it’s just fantastic,” said Chris Orheim, the facility’s general manager.


It hosts everything from basketball to volleyball, wrestling to gymnastics and has already been the staging point for NCAA tournaments and three GCI Great Alaska Shootouts, which are broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network.


But distance, as it often does in Alaska, plays a role in how many events and acts the arena brings in. The multipurpose building, where Toby Keith and Carrie Underwood have played, is always fighting geography.


“Most shows like to route from building to building, we need to get them to think of us as a quick three-hour flight from Seattle, in the middle of their tour, and maybe a little break while they’re on tour,” said Orheim. “So far, it’s been pretty good, but it’s still a challenge here.”


But the nice little arena in Anchorage is doing okay for itself. And a tip of the cap calling it the best in Division II college basketball must make the people who built and run the arena know they got it right.