Carlson Center study recommends borough management of building

Published: Jan. 6, 2021 at 4:54 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks North Star Borough published the findings of a feasibility study conducted regarding the future of the Carlson Center. The study concluded that the borough should consider taking over management of the building.

Complaints about the state of the building’s facilities have created tension with the largest tenant, the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Hockey Program. For the first time since it was built in 1990, the borough is considering taking over management of the center. The building is currently managed by SMG of Alaska, but that contract expires in June, 2021.

The borough hired GreenPlay, a parks and recreation consulting company to conduct the study. GreenPlay sent out surveys to borough residents, as well speaking with stakeholders who often use the building. The report they provided also considered similar venues in Fairbanks that could be competition for the Carlson Center.

The Carlson Center is currently used as a venue for the UAF Nanooks Hockey as well as various other events, trade shows and conferences. The building is the largest venue of its kind in Fairbanks.

The study outlined some of the advantages of the building such as its large space, food and beverage operations and flexibility, as well as disadvantages like the cost of renting the building, deteriorating facilities and issues with the hockey ice.

The study explored other possible uses of the building beyond the current scope. Options like a gymnasium, soccer turf, and a walking track were suggested to increase the use of the building on the weekdays when large events aren’t being held.

The study concluded by saying that the borough should take over management of the building and redirect the $500,000 to $650,000 spent annually on the facility to their Recreation Department to manage the building.

It also suggested that they conduct a design study for renovating the building and adding additional services.

The borough said in a statement that they will be seeking public comment at every step of the way and will have more information on the plan in February.

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