Carlson Center Seeks Change Ideas Through Survey

Sep 22, 2020

The fate of the Carlson Center in Fairbanks will partly depend on the results of a survey that closes tomorrow night (Wednesday.) Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation Department is studying how best to manage the multi-purpose building.


Countless trade shows, hockey games, concerts and other public events have been hosted at the Carlson Center since it’s opening in 1990, including nearly every high school graduation in the district.

Luke Kline is coordinating a Feasibility Study for the management of the arena, which will evaluate the current management company, ASM Global, whose contract is coming to an end. But more importantly, the study will examine operations and maintenance and get input from people who use the building. Kline says that’s just about everyone in the borough.

“We are trying to identify the needs and desires of the community. With it being a community activity center, what are the kind of things that they want to see in there, and how did they feel about the things that are currently going on in there?”

Focus groups and a community forum were held in July. Here is a link to the forum:

Now a survey is both online and sent to 4,500 homes in the borough. The online survey takes 10 minutes to complete and closes Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.

“A public open-link survey, to provide a survey available to everybody online and on Wednesday, at the end of business, we will close the survey and compile the data.”

The Carlson Center has been praised for being all things to all people, and criticized for being too expensive to manage. It brings in just under two million dollars ($1.8 million, according to 2020-21 borough budget documents) in revenue from trade shows and entertainment events, but still requires a ($500,000) subsidy from the borough to make ends meet.

Currently, the building is equipped as a field hospital should there ever be an overflow of more than 50 COVID-19 patients at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. Kline says in a normal year, the building might greet 125,000 visitors.

The study project is led by an outside company called GreenPlay, LLC, with survey and data work done by RRC Associates. They have been interviewing local sports teams and user groups and are examining the money.

“They’ll develop a detailed financial model of operations, revenues, expenses, the pieces of the model that help to identify a future recommendation for how the facility should be operated.”

The Borough invites all residents to provide feedback and input through an open-link survey available now online at www.fbsurvey.org/open.

The results of the surveys will provide critical information in determining amenities, current facilities, community programming, future needs and renovations of the Carlson Center for Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation’s long-term planning efforts. Questions ask what types of improvements residents want at the Carlson Center and where priorities should be placed.

The project team expects to make a report of their findings to the borough in October.