AIEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There was a lot to cheer about during the first University of Hawaii game of the year, but getting to Aloha Stadium was another story. Last Saturday's game was the first big event where people felt the reality of rail at Aloha Stadium because the 1,040 stalls that used to be there are being used to store rail equipment.
There was plenty of excitement for UH's first game of the year. More than expected actually. Last year fewer than 2,000 people bought "walk up" tickets on the day of the home opener against USC. This year 4,200 people walked up to buy tickets for the game against Washington. That demand created backlogs for traffic, parking and just getting into the game.
"We apologize for the inconvenience we created. We fell short of providing that service to some extent," said Scott Chan, Aloha Stadium Manager. "When we hear that they're unhappy obviously there are some things that are not being met."
Part of the problem is there are 1,040 fewer parking spaces available now because the rail project has taken over the Kamehameha lot.
"Now you take away the 1,000 we have to relocate those guests somewhere else. That takes up parking for the general public somewhere else so it plays a major role," said Chan.
It will be like this for at least three years while the rail is being built. Once the transit is there, there will be a park and ride station with 600 stalls that will be available on event days.
In the meantime the Stadium Authority says it will get more people working the turnstiles and more checkpoints further out to notify the general public sooner when the lots are full.
Fans may also have to change their mindset. They probably can't show up 90 minutes prior to the game and expect to find parking, buy a ticket and get to your seat by kickoff.
Already 22,000 tickets have been sold for this Saturday's game against Oregon State. That's not including the 7,000 tickets given to the Beavers to sell. The Stadium Authority expects more than 30,000 people so get there early and expect traffic and parking to fill up.
Late in the afternoon Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) CEO Dan Grabauskas issued the following written statement:
"HART has been working with the Aloha Stadium Authority to ensure there is ample parking, particularly on high-traffic game days. HART provided additional replacement parking stalls at satellite parking lots, as well as additional buses to shuttle patrons from those lots to the stadium before last weekend's game.
Once the system is up and running, those riding the elevated trains will be able to conveniently access the stadium on game day by avoiding the traffic.
Studies have shown that approximately 20 percent of stadium users in other U.S. cities commute by train to their sporting venue. And we will be able to easily increase the system's capacity on major game days and during other major events."