UH Hosts Car Convention and Lesson in Economics - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

UH Hosts Car Convention and Lesson in Economics

Co Yara Co Yara
Mike Michels, Toyota corporate communications manager Mike Michels, Toyota corporate communications manager
Gregg Takayama, UH Spokesperson Gregg Takayama, UH Spokesperson

By: Leland Kim

MANOA (KHNL) -- College is supposed to be a place of higher learning, but University of Hawaii at Manoa students are learning, everything has a price, including their lower campus, which is being rented out for a car dealers convention and concert for a half a million dollars. But this latest money-making effort by the school leaves students locked out.

Besides crews setting up on lower campus, much of UH Manoa was quiet Saturday. But the event has generated some controversy on campus.

Crews began working on the UH Manoa campus Tuesday. By Saturday, crews transformed the track and field area into an outdoor dining room.

Local Toyota Scion owners were among those attending the convention. They say the cars give them a chance to showcase their individuality.

"To me, the car represents your own," said Co Yara, a Pearl City resident. "It brings out your personality because everyone would style the car differently. So, this speaks for a part of me."

Tricked out Scions served as window dressing to a convention that looks ahead to the upcoming year. But the talk of the town is the entertainment inside Les Murakami Stadium.

And the highlight of the day, of course, is the Aerosmith concert. They'll hit this stage to entertain thousands of Toyota dealers. It's a private concert, meaning no tickets are available for the event.

"We wish we could make that available to the public, but the stadium doesn't have the capacity for everybody to come," said Mike Michels, a Toyota corporate communications manager.

Toyota paid half a million dollars to the UH athletics department, so the university has made accommodations for the event. Some students and faculty members have criticized the deal, saying the money should benefit the entire campus, not just athletes.

"In the years when athletics is in the red, funds are used from Manoa campus as a whole to help subsidize them," said Gregg Takayama, a university spokesperson. "The more that athletics can be in the black -- and this event helps them do so -- the better off then entire campus will be."

Toyota said it just wants to have a successful convention in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

"So coming to Hawaii is a celebration," said Michels. "And it also marks the fact that our very first dealer meeting was here in Hawaii as well."

The Aerosmith concert took place Saturday evening. No cameras, not even personal cameras, were allowed inside the stadium. Some UH students had a concert party in their dorm rooms.

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