HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - UH games are moving to Manoa and there were plans to build a new Aloha Stadium, but Gov. David Ige says the state may now be considering other options.
“It has never been in our budget,” the governor said, earlier this week.
“It’s a very expensive item. When we are looking at public schools, healthcare facilities, the University of Hawaii and other kinds of core infrastructure in our community it’s hard to say that we want to spend $350 million or so on replacement for the stadium.”
But some lawmakers say not building a new stadium will cost even more.
State Sen. Glenn Wakai, the chair of the Committee on Energy, Economic Development and Tourism, said a 2017 study found it would cost $421 million to keep Aloha Stadium standing for the next 25 years.
Building a brand new facility is estimated at $350 million.
“I was a little disappointed by the governor’s revelation that he’s no longer supportive of building a new stadium, because up until Monday, he was a big fan and supporter of the stadium,” said Wakai.
Aloha Stadium’s management spoke before Wakai and his committee in a hearing on Wednesday.
They’re seeking $1.5 million to sustain operations to recoup revenue lost due to the pandemic.
“If they don’t get any infusion of cash, by June of this year, they’re going to be done,” said Wakai. “I mean, we might as well turn off the lights and walk away from that stadium.”
Management said they plan to generate funds through enhancing the swap meet, craft fairs and drive in concerts like the one they have planned on Valentine’s Day.
Stadium Manager Scott Chan said they don’t want to allow fans back in the stands until an assessment report is completed on the stadium, which would cost about $600,000.
“Rust never sleeps, without the work being done I would be very concerned if we allowed people back in without doing the very least that needs to be done in making sure it’s a safe environment,” said Chan.
Wakai said there is a bill moving through the House and the Senate that would put together a framework for the development of a new Aloha Stadium.
Even if passed, the governor could veto the measure.
“But that’s kind of what might happen over the next few months on this push and pull on whether we should put more money into a 46-year-old rusting relic,” said Wakai. “Or go down the road of creating jobs and building a brand-new multifaceted stadium for the people of Hawaii.”
Ige said they are looking at options to prolong the life of the stadium if they are unable to come up with the necessary funds to build a new facility.
In addition, they are committed to helping UH find a place to play for the upcoming season.