In blistering letter, UH officials condemn school’s financial relationship with Aloha Stadium

Updated: Jan. 8, 2021 at 4:09 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a scathing letter sent Thursday to Aloha Stadium management and other state leaders, University of Hawaii officials ripped the school’s financial partnership with the facility and compiled a list of ‘fundamental requirements’ for the school’s continued partnership moving forward.

The letter, signed by both school president David Lassner and athletics director David Matlin and obtained by Hawaii News Now on Friday, takes aim at staggering number of issues the school says ‘threatens the financial viability of Division 1 intercollegiate athletics in Hawaii.’

Among them: that UH, a public school, should not have to continue to pay rent or facilities cost to use a state-owned stadium; that UH needed to be able to receive ticket revenue for football games; and that UH officials needed to be included among the team making decisions surrounding plans for a new Aloha Stadium complex.

“UH has had an excellent relationship with the Stadium Authority leadership and management. We appreciate that they have been challenged to maintain the health and safety of the facility with inadequate revenue,” reads the letter. “That said, UH has also been crystal clear that the financial model under which we have been playing our home games at Aloha Stadium does not work for UH.”

The University of Hawaii’s athletic department has run a net operating loss in each of the last XXXXXXXXXXX, in part because of the school’s financial relationship with the stadium. The school is on the hook for roughly $100,000 in expenses per home game, for things like security staff and box office personnel, but does not share in any stadium revenues.

Overwhelmingly, schools across the country ― most of which own and operate their own stadium facilities and are not subject to the same sort of financial agreement the University of Hawaii is ― subsidize their athletic departments with funds garnered from football games,

Remedying the financial relationship, according to the letter, is a ‘fundamental requirement’ for the new Aloha Stadium complex, whenever it ends up being built ― especially since the school was essentially put out in the cold last month when the Aloha Stadium Authority announced a moratorium on new business at the crumbling facility.

And the letter provided a list of ways by which they thought they could come to an agreement that made financial sense.

  • UH Football receives paramount consideration in scheduling
  • UH pays no rental or facilities cost for football games
  • UH receives all ticket receipts including preferred seating donation (PSD) revenue for football
  • UH receives revenue from premium parking
  • UH receives a minimum of 1/2 of luxury boxes to sell for UH Football
  • UH receives revenue from ‘Club’ area membership fees for UH Football games
  • UH receives a minimum of 1/2 of net concession and merchandise revenue
  • UH receives a minimum of 1/2 of net parking revenue
  • UH receives rights to sell Advertising for UH football games and retain the funds

Late Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Aloha Stadium said most of the issues raised by UH in the letter fell into the jurisdiction of the planning for the new Aloha Stadium complex and would have to be directed to the state comptroller.

As for those that pertained to the current Aloha Stadium administration, the spokesperson said, facility management was still reviewing them and was not able to comment at this time.

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