HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Stadium Authority’s announcement to indefinitely shut down Aloha Stadium has left the Rainbow Warriors temporarily homeless for the first time in over four decades.
The team held the stadium’s first sporting event back in 1975, but now with its future in jeopardy some former Warriors reflected on their time at the venue.
Former defensive lineman Zeno Choi remembers fondly of his first time wearing the “H” on his helmet, signifying a big step in his football career.
“To play a few games in high school, then transitioning to a bigger platform playing at the college level is huge.” Choi told Hawaii News Now. “It means the world, not only for me, but to other individuals as well, other players, athletes and what not.”
Choi went on to say that his favorite memory at Aloha Stadium was the ‘Bows 2019 Hawaii Bowl victory over BYU, a sentiment shared by his former teammate Dayton Furuta.
“It has to be that win over BYU last year in the Hawaii Bowl.” Furuta said. “BYU is always a big game and just the way our team came together and was able to pull that off.”
Many more memories come to mind for the local boys, who grew up in the shadow of the “Metal Mecca” long before they were playing for the home team.
Former UH pass rusher Kaimana Padello remembers his first time at the stadium — like Furuta and Choi — a Pop Warner Championship game. Padello can still remember the feeling of being in the locker room that afternoon.
“Playing in the stadium, it’s always a great experience, just going into the locker room, seeing where all of these guys suit up, knowing that even NFL players go there for the Pro Bowl.” Padello said. “It’s just a lot of memories for sure.”
Looking ahead, UH Athletic Director David Matlin confirmed that the ‘Bows are now in the process of finding a new home for the 2021 season.
In a statement, Matlin says that “we must now take responsibility ourselves to find a suitable venue for our Rainbow Warriors, Hawaiʻi’s football team, to play in front of our loyal fans beginning in 2021.”
A couple of possibilities have already started to circulate, one being the possibility of moving to War Memorial Stadium in Maui, the only other site in the state large enough for a Division I football program.
Back in 2013, Furuta took a trip to War Memorial as part of the Mililani Trojans football team, reflecting on island hopping for football.
“It was a great experience, especially being in high school, it felt almost like a (Mainland) game for us, but just being in Maui.” Furuta said. “Maui’s a beautiful place and the stadium is awesome, but from what I can remember it is a little windy.”
Another option would have UH play on the road the whole season, something Padello thinks will have an adverse affect on the players.
“It’s going to be challenging definitely, it’s going to be very taxing on the body having to fly every single week.” Padello said. “Normally they would fly out on a Wednesday or a Thursday, so to constantly put your body on a plane over and over again, I mean it’s going to wear you down definitely.”
As of now, there is no official plan for where the Rainbow Warriors will call home in 2021.