- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The University of Alaska Anchorage is hoping its new sports complex will be more than a sports destination.

A late design change will add a restaurant serving beer and wine to the top floor of the Alaska Airlines Center, APRN (https://bit.ly/1kHUHMZ) reported.

The state-funded arena will accommodate 5,000 spectators on two levels for main events.

The arena’s top floor will have five hospitality suites and the new dining accommodations, said Tlisa Northcutt, the director of development for Seawolf athletics.

“There’s also a restaurant going in that will be like 360 days a year; it’s not just for campus, it’s really meant to be kind of an addition for the community in this area,” she said. “It’ll be known as Varsity Sports Grill.”

The restaurant will seat 100 people inside and open to a patio facing the Chugach Mountains that can hold another 80 patrons. The restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner.

The UA Board of Regents approved the design change last month. Sales of beer and wine at the restaurant, and at events in the arena, marks a change of UAA policy, said Bill Spindle, vice chancellor for administrative services.

“The University has not allowed alcohol on campus except for specific restricted events. So we have redone our policy and got approval from the chancellor for the arena only, to have beer and wine at particular events,” Spindle said.

Athletic director Keith Hackett said he hopes the restaurant will help make the sports center a community destination.

“When people come to sporting events, 75 percent of them go out to dinner before or after an event. So, what our hope is, is that those people that are going out to dinner choose to come to the Varsity Sports Grill,” Hackett said.

NANA Management Services will operate the restaurant. The Alaska Airlines Center is scheduled to open Sept. 5.

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