NEW STADIUM IS PROPOSED
The panel overseeing the Halawa venue suggests a smaller facility should be built
The Aloha Stadium Authority is recommending that the state seek ancillary development to help underwrite a new, slightly smaller stadium on land surrounding the deteriorating 42-yearold Aloha Stadium.
The recommendations, the biggest steps yet in a nearly 3-1/2-year process to determine the future of the rusting 50,000-seat facility, were contained in a threepage resolution adopted at Thursday’s authority meeting and emailed to Gov. David Ige and state lawmakers. The vote was 5-0 with four members absent and was timed in advance of next week’s opening of the Legislature, where the authority hopes to gain backing for its position.
It will be up to Ige and the Legislature whether the state takes the next likely step, a request for proposal,
to develop portions of the nearly 100-acre property in Halawa. The stadium itself occupies approximately 11.5 acres.
Last year the authority posted a request for information that a spokesman said prompted responses from several “well-known entities” in the industry, which he declined to name.
Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui’s deputy chief of staff, Ross Tsukenjo, attended part of the nearly two-hour closeddoor executive session that preceded the vote and said, “The lieutenant governor is committed to helping the stadium authority board in any way that he can when they decide whichever way they want to go.”
The new state comptroller, Roderick Becker, who concurrently serves as director of the state Department of Accounting and General Services, which oversees Aloha Stadium, also attended a portion of the executive session.
AUTHORITY members and their consultants have briefed key legislators in recent weeks on studies that indicate a new facility “can be constructed for an amount roughly comparable, including market escalation, to the department’s current estimate for health and safety repairs (of the current facility), depending upon materials selected for construction, the amenities included in the design and the timing of construction, exclusive in all cases of transportation improvements, remediation and related infrastructure.” The stadium authority is recommending a facility with “30,000-35,000 permanent seats that is expandable to 40,000 for special events,” saying it “would create a more intimate environment significantly improving the fan experience, reduce operating costs and facilitate an efficient and more economical design.” Aloha Stadium, the state’s largest outdoor venue, opened in 1975 at a cost of $37 million. Thursday’s recommendation, citing a DAGS-commissioned study of the structural integrity of Aloha Stadium, said “that as of 2016 Aloha Stadium requires approximately $300 million in critical health and safety repairs to extend the facility’s useful life and that the cost of such repairs, if unaddressed, would grow at a rate of approximately seven percent per annum.”
THE RESOLUTION said, “If the State funds approximately $25.5 million per year, it would take at least 25 years for the State to complete the currently-documented existing required repairs, totaling $637.5 million.”
The Aloha Stadium Authority did not cite a price tag for the proposed new stadium, but recent estimates have varied from $200 million to $300 million, depending on number of decks, materials used, amenities and when the stadium is built.
A 2014 report by New York firm Foley & Lardner, commissioned by the state, recommended a “30,000-35,000 seat stadium on the lower portion of the (current) stadium site” for $132 million to $192 million (in 2014 dollars). A separate report by a California firm commissioned by UH in 2014 conceptualized a 30,585-seat multipurpose facility for $165 million to $190 million. It was not site-specific. Thursday’s resolution comes as state officials are in the final stages of trying to secure the lifting of federal and city deed restrictions on much of the Aloha Stadium property. The lifting of the deeds, which have been in place since the 1970s, would allow the state to partner with builders on developing portions of the land for more than recreational uses.
The stadium authority said the rail station being built at Aloha Stadium creates “a unique opportunity to leverage increased transit options for stadium operations and transitoriented development,” and suggests that the new facility “could be financed over 25 years for approximately the same annual contribution necessary to complete all health and safety repairs.”
The resolution calls for building the stadium “prior to any such ancillary development.”