The football season is about to kick off, and Moanalua High School's football field is ready for Friday night lights – but because of a surprise discovery, the team's home turf will be off-limits for the entire 2017 season.
"Every now and then, we run into problems. Particularly when we're digging in the dirt here in Hawaii," said Dann Carlson, deputy superintendent for facilities in the Department of Education. "We often times run into things we were not anticipating."
A contractor installing a rubberized track around the field found irrigation and water lines that weren't on old blueprints. Relocating them requires new engineering and design plans, as well as the accompanying permits. That process delayed completion of the work from September until next March.
"We have to go back to the drawing board," Carlson said.
Because the track is a construction zone, Moanalua's teams can't access the field, meaning they will be unable to host varsity and junior varsity football games. Na Menehune was slated to host five home of them, beginning on August 4 against Punahou.
Parents of the players aren't happy.
"The boosters don't make any money. The concessions don't make any money," said Liko Smith, whose son plays for the JV squad. "We have five home games this year, and we're not getting any of them because of this stoppage of using the field and track."
Earlier this year, players were able to cross the track to get to the field. But Carlson said the contractor chose to prohibit access over safety concerns.
"When we turn a site over like that, which is the entire perimeter of the track, that then becomes the contractor's liability risk," he said. "So he is liable for everything that happens in that construction zone."
Moanalua's players can't use their weight room, either. That building is alongside the track.
Football practicesare being held in a nearby park, something Smith says will be a problem if other groups need the park space.
"We are not guaranteed that the field is ours to use," said Smith. "We just have to see if it's available or not."
Moanalua High School and the OIA will move Na Menehune home games to Radford, Aiea and Roosevelt high schools. Those games, even if they're the home team on paper, are essentially road games.
"We will have to pay for the buses and stuff to take the kids to and from the games, which is another added expense that we weren't expecting," Smith said.
The league will subsidize the bus expense up to $150. The rest of the bill must be paid for by the school.
The $2.1 million track makeover will also displace Moanalua's award-winning marching band, which will be unable to use the football field for choreographing their performances. Once school starts, physical education classes will have to find alternative places to work out.
"This is just one of those unfortunate situations that we find ourselves in," Carlson said.