The future of Aloha Stadium might not include the beloved swap meet

Updated: Jan. 27, 2019 at 5:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The idea of a new Aloha Stadium isn’t a unique one, but two state lawmakers say their new strategy actually lays out a solid funding plan and they’re not just focusing on the stadium, but everything that surrounds the venue. And that means pushing out some long time vendors.

"What this in affect does is it not only sets forth a vision and a path but it also commits resources to making it turn into a reality," said House District 31 Rep. Aaron Johanson.

Legislation introduced by Senator Glenn Wakai and State Rep. Aaon Johanson would create a new development district for the 98 parcel property the stadium sits on all under the Hawaii Community Development Authority. Previous plans from other parties include a redesign of just the facility itself under the Aloha Stadium Authority.

"While they can make a lot of improvements the stadium and govern the stadium itself, it can't do much for the surrounding property,"

The legislation uses $100 million in tax payer money as a down payment. Commercial developers would help foot some of the bill with $150 million in revenue bonds and another $100 million would come from general obligation bonds.

"The state should and can do much better that what we see behind us," said Senator Wakai pointing to the Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium Sunday morning. "We should be getting $50 million in lease payments not $5 million from swap meets and carnivals."

Bode says he hopes the plan changes to include, in some form, the swap meet.

“It would be terrible because it is a way for income for a lot of families that come here to sell things to make money to provide for their family. So, I think that would be the junk part of upgrading the stadium,” said Bode.

For those hoping a newer stadium means bigger performers, Concert Promoter Rick Bartalini says thats not the case.

"Modernizing it is not going to get Taylor Swift here, it's not going to get Ed Sheran here," Bartalini said.

The problem with getting big acts to the islands really has more to do with money and shipping costs.

"It just comes down to cost and timing and logistics. Who is that going to work with? Changing the venue isn't going to change who is going to come," added Bartalini.

Lawmakers Johanson and Wakai agree and while the plans aren't complete yet, they want a smaller, more flexible, multi-use stadium with around 35,000 seats.

It would be built where the 50th State Fair is held. The original stadium would remain standing until the new one is complete so UH Football is not interrupted.

The state has already put up $10 million for an environmental impact survey - that is happening now and might take two years. If either bill makes it through the legislature and the funding plan is approved, the groundbreaking could happen as soon as 5 years.

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