MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The long wait is over for University of Hawaii at Manoa students who have been paying for a new recreation center. After 16 months of delays, the school held a blessing for the facility during a grand opening celebration on Friday. The Warrior Recreation Center features a gym, sports equipment, locker rooms and an indoor jogging track.
"Oh my gosh, it is so beautiful! Everything is so shiny. I love the new smell. I'm just really excited to work out here," said sophomore Sean Mitsui.
The $33.9 million project suffered setbacks such as unexpected site conditions and subcontractor bankruptcy issues.
"Some were kind of hard to foresee. I think they found out that some of the soil underneath couldn't take the weight and things and I guess one of our subs (subcontractors) went belly up," explained Tom Apple, UH Manoa's chancellor.
The delayed opening is a bit of a disappointment to some recent graduates. Part of the funding comes from a $175 fee that UH Manoa students pay each semester.
"I think it's good for the students who will come after me or who are here now. They get to enjoy it at least, and good to see that all the money went to good use. It looks nice," said Grant Ponciano, a 2013 graduate.
"The majority of the work is finished. We are operational at 4:30 p.m. today so students will be able to utilize the facility and really see what it's all about," said Matthew Nagata, president of the Campus Center Board.
UH officials said there were some minor tasks that still needed to be finished, but nothing major that would disrupt the operation of the new center.
Nagata explained why the facility wasn't named the Rainbow Warrior Recreation Center.
"We were not considering names for athletic teams and things like that when we were naming our facility. We were looking for something student-driven in the process, representing our broad student demographic groups and we felt the Warrior name was the best for the facility," he said.
While the recreation center is now open, university leaders are still dealing with a $407-million deferred maintenance backlog on campus.
"We're going to try to do the deferred maintenance, too. It's a decades-long build up of projects that were underfunded and we've gotta do that, too," said Apple.