McKinley's new football field can only be used to practice...for now

( Image: Hawaii News Now )
( Image: Hawaii News Now )

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - McKinley High School may as well hang a sign in front of its new $5 million football field that reads, "For Practices Only."

With no bleachers or field lights to illuminate the field and track, the Tigers can't play any games on their beautiful artificial turf.

Principal Ron Okamura wants to change that.

"My students deserve what every other school has," he says.

He's pushing an idea to install field lights and grandstands in the not-too-distant future, a scaled down version of Farrington High School's new football stadium.

"Every school you look at has an athletic field, has stands. Some of them have lights. Why not here?" Okamura said.

When McKinley's field was being planned a decade ago people who live nearby objected to lights for night games so McKinley conceded.

Athletic director Bob Morikuni is happy the plan is being resurrected.

"The school was here for 150 years," he said. "We want to do what's best for our students and the school."

The Department of Education is working on allocating funds for designing stadium lighting and seating for McKinley. Morikuni hopes the public won't object as fiercely as it did before over noise, parking and traffic concerns.

"It's not as if we're going to have something on our campus seven days a week for the whole year," he said.

Hawaii News Now asked a couple of the neighboring condos for comment. The general manager of Pacifica Honolulu said he hasn't heard any concerns from owners or tenants.

But Okamura expects to face opposition when an Environmental Assessment begins. He envisions a McKinley stadium to hold 3,500 to 4,500 spectators.

"When we have a commencement here the grounds are full. But if you open up all the exits you're looking at about 20 minutes max to empty out the entire campus," he said.

"Ward as it's booming with the new condominiums and businesses, adding a new football stadium I believe would add to the beauty of what's going on," Morikuni said.

A stadium would enable McKinley to charge admission and sell refreshments and logo items likes shirts and caps. Okamura envisions many opportunities to generate revenue for his school.

"Even if we just get bleachers then we can at least play day games. We're trying to fight even for that," he said.

Besides football the field was designed for soccer. Installing field lights would also enable McKinley to host large track and field events like the OIA championships and state tournaments.

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