Con­ven­tion cen­ter in­vests $1.1 mil­lion in sports-court floor­ing to lure events

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - By Kris­ten Con­sil­lio kcon­sil­lio@starad­ver­

The Hawai‘i Con­ven­tion Cen­ter to­day is un­veil­ing $1.1 mil­lion in new floor­ing that can con­vert its 204,000-square-foot ex­hi­bi­tion hall into courts for am­a­teur and pro­fes­sional sport­ing events in an ef­fort to di­ver­sify group busi­ness. The Am­a­teur Ath­letic Union Honolulu Grand Prix women’s vol­ley­ball tour­na­ment, with an es­ti­mated 1,000 ath­letes and be­ing held over Pres­i­dents Day week­end, will be the first event on the new sports courts, which can be con­fig­ured into 28 vol­ley­ball and bad­minton courts, 18 basketball courts or 11 fut­sal (in­door soc­cer) courts. In­vest­ing in the por­ta­ble sports floor­ing will help the con­ven­tion cen­ter at­tract a new mar­ket that Hawaii has yet to cap­i­tal­ize on, said Teri Or­ton, gen­eral man­ager. The venue, along with the Hawaii Tourism Author­ity, is in­creas­ing ef­forts to bring more ath­letic events to Hawaii, she said. The cen­ter has al­ready booked two ma­jor sports events for 2017, in­clud­ing a basketball tour­na­ment in June. “(The two events) will gen­er­ate $1.3 mil­lion in tax rev­enue for the state, so in essence we’ve pretty much paid the courts off in the first year,” she said. “The ob­jec­tive of pur­chas­ing the courts was to bring in main­land and in­ter­na­tional teams with the in­tent to in­crease busi­ness to the state of Hawaii and drive room nights to our ho­tel part­ners. This is just the be­gin­ning to what I be­lieve is a new way for Hawaii to en­hance its abil­ity to at­tract sport­ing events that have strong fol­low­ings around the world.”

In ad­di­tion to vol­ley­ball, bad­minton, basketball and fut­sal, the courts can also ac­com­mo­date wrestling,

gym­nas­tics, mar­tial arts, dance, cheer­lead­ing, group fit­ness ac­tiv­i­ties and ta­ble ten­nis. There is also an op­tion to add el­e­vated seat­ing for spec­ta­tors. Or­ton is hop­ing to book at least four to five sport­ing events a year.

“It was ma­jor ex­pen­di­ture. To con­vince HTA to spend $1.1 mil­lion without a guar­an­tee is a lit­tle scary,” said Brad Gess­ner, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of Los An­ge­les-based AEG Fa­cil­i­ties, which man­ages the cen­ter. “We worked on this for two years.”

AEG’s strat­egy to di­ver­sify

busi­ness seems to be work­ing.

For the first time last year, the con­ven­tion cen­ter recorded a $611,500 profit fol­low­ing an­nual losses av­er­ag­ing about $3.5 mil­lion. “There’s prob­a­bly less than five con­ven­tion cen­ters in North Amer­ica that ac­tu­ally have an op­er­a­tional sur­plus. They’re al­most all sub­si­dized,” he said. “So it’s a huge ac­com­plish­ment.” The fa­cil­ity, pro­ject­ing a loss of $1.7 mil­lion for 2017, is ne­go­ti­at­ing with sev­eral other ath­letic clubs in­ter­ested in bring­ing their sport­ing events to Hawaii.


Hawai‘i Con­ven­tion Cen­ter ex­ec­u­tives Les­lie Dance, left, and Teri Or­ton, right, along with Brad Gess­ner of AEG Fa­cil­i­ties, got a look at the cen­ter’s new ath­letic floor and equip­ment Thurs­day.

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