Working In Sports Spotlight: Chris Orheim
Chris Orheim manages the myriad of events, from UAA athletics to concerts, that come through the Alaska Airlines Center.
Chris Orheim manages the myriad of events, from UAA athletics to concerts, that come through the Alaska Airlines Center.
Chris Orheim
Chris Orheim

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The 2018 GNAC Working In Sports seminar will take place on Sat., Mar. 3, at the Alaska Airlines Center on the campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Now in its fourth year, the Working In Sports provides high school and college-aged students with an interest in a career in athletics a chance to hear from, and network with, professionals from all aspects of the athletics industry.

The seminar is limited to the first 100 registrants. To reserve your spot, visit

This Working In Sports Spotlight profiles one of this year’s featured panelists.

Name: Chris Orheim
Current Position: General Manager - Alaska Airlines Center
Years In Current Position: 3.5

Colleges Attended & Degrees: Washington State University (Undergraduate, English)

Primary Job Responsibilities: I am responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Alaska Airlines Center. I work closely with UAA administration and athletics to establish and maintain best use practices and policies for the arena. I develop and maintain a $2.5 million operating budget, coordinate scheduling and booking, oversee ticketing, finance, operations and marketing; and negotiate contracts with vendors, sponsors, promoters and labor unions.

Things I Enjoy Most About My Job: Being an integral part of a variety of sports and entertainment events. The gratification of seeing fans and guests of all ages attend an event and have a great experience. Knowing that the effort of my team members and myself helped to make that happen.

Why I Pursued A Professional Career In The Athletics Industry: I had several opportunities present themselves and have been fortunate to work in an entertaining and rewarding environment as a result.

First Job In The Sports Industry: I took a job at a bicycle and ski store as part of a work-study program at Washington State University in 1985 and eventually bought the business from the owner. One of my mechanics worked at the WSU arena and asked if I could help with a show in 1987. The work started with conversion and set up for events, including for WSU basketball and volleyball.

A Key Mentor Who Helped Me On My Career Path: Former UAA athletic director Keith Hackett was at the University of Nevada when I was there in the early 2000s. He focused on the importance of effective leadership, relationships in the industry, perseverance towards your goals and always doing the right thing.

Most Influential Person In My Early Professional Development (And Why): Joe Kerr was the Director of WSU's Beasley Coliseum. He would take the time to answer questions and was the first person to ask me if I thought of the business as a "career or a job". After relocating to Nevada, Joe encouraged me to apply for an operations manager position and continued to provide the opportunity for development. Several of the principles of management I use today, including an incredible amount of patience, is from Joe.

Biggest Hurdle I Overcame Breaking Into The Sports Industry: Facing a challenge head-on and then moving on.

Key Attributes That Have Helped Me To Be Successful: Always having a good back up plan. Not being satisfied with status quo. There’s always room for improvement. Knowing the difference between patience and procrastination. Believing that there are no tasks too small or unimportant that I cannot assist with the solution.

Best Advice I’d Give To A Young Adult Wanting To Work In Sports: Get involved. Ask questions and jump in with both feet. Get experience whenever you can.

Favorite Sports Team: Currently, Alaska Anchorage women’s basketball. They are the hardest working team. It’s an intelligent and super aggressive style of play.

Favorite Athlete: Dwayne Johnson

Most Memorable Sports-Related Moment: Nevada basketball beating highly ranked Gonzaga March 20, 2004, in front of a capacity crowd at the Key Arena in Seattle during the 2004 NCAA Tournament.