State considers 6 potential sites for eventual Aloha Stadium replacement

State considers 6 potential sites for eventual Aloha Stadium replacement

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state’s Stadium Authority is taking another step toward the eventual redevelopment of Hawaii’s largest outdoor arena.

Stadium officials announced Thursday that they have begun work on an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed new facility, and a outside consultant hired by the authority has already completed an analysis of possible sites for a new stadium.

Unsurprisingly, the site analysis study — completed by the firm Crawford Architects, a group that has helped develop NFL stadium complexes in Minneapolis and Seattle — found that the existing Halawa location would be the best place for a new stadium.

“They have reaffirmed our position that the Halawa site is the best place to move forward with, not only the stadium, but the mixed use development, so we’re very happy about that,” said Ross Yamasaki, Stadium Authority chairman.

The company also examined possible stadium sites on the campuses of U.H. Manoa and U.H. West Oahu, city-owned properties like the Ala Wai Golf Course and Kapiolani Park, and the former Kalaeloa Airport.

“With U.H. Manoa, everyone agrees it would be fantastic to have football on campus on Saturdays, but this facility needs to be a little bit larger and it’s more than just a U.H. collegiate facility for eight games a year,” said Stacey Jones, principal and senior partner at Crawford.

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The sites were graded on development costs, economic impact and existing infrastructure, among other attributes.

The Kalaeloa location was the lowest-graded potential location, while the University of Hawaii’s West Oahu campus garnered the second-highest score.

Jones says they will be studying the impacts of a smaller 35,000 seat stadium, as well as additional mixed use development for the community.

He says the firm will also look into what it will take to redevelop the existing 44-year-old facility.

“We’re very conscious of the fact that this has to be perceived and utilized as a community asset, as much as it does for the specificity of sports and entertainment,” Jones said.

The environmental impact statement is expected to take 12 to 18 months.

The state has already set aside $10 million for the studies and master planning.

“We’re doing all of the due diligence that you would do in preparation for future work,” said Chris Kinimaka, planning branch chief for the state Department of Accounting and General Services. “We need to ensure our project is feasible and worth pursuing.”

Once the EIS is complete, the next step will be securing funding for construction.

Bills at the state legislature right now would appropriate $350 million dollars for the project.

The existing Aloha Stadium is in desperate need of replacement; earlier this year, officials asked for $30 million in funding to address “high priority” maintenance needs at the facility, including severe erosion in a number of areas.

A recent safety study found that 200 steel beams and 85 panels of lightweight decking at the stadium are exhibiting severe corrosion, though officials maintain that the stadium is safe — at least for now.

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