State undecided on whether to redevelop Aloha Stadium or simply fund repairs

Some lawmakers want a full redevelopment of Aloha Stadium while others think repairs are more affordable

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor isn’t sure it’s the right time to redevelop Aloha Stadium, but others are pushing for the project to get critical funding.

They’re saying any investment will pay off.

State Comptroller Curt Otaguro said this week that stadium redevelopment is the “first piece of a critical phase” in launching the so-called New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District.

Otaguro said parts of the current stadium that were categorized as “severely corroded” increased by approximately 300% from 2016 to 2018.

He also said the state has only provided a third of the funds needed for maintenance for the past 15 years. A new stadium, meanwhile, is expected to cost the state about $350 million.

“This is more than a stadium project. It always has been. Our kuleana as the stadium authority is to provide community benefit from state,” said Aloha Stadium Authority Chair Ross Yamasaki.

But Gov. David Ige said it is too expensive given the state’s current financial crisis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us re-examine our priorities,” he said.

“The cost of a new stadium would be significant. When we have public schools, the University of Hawaii, healthcare, and other kinds of core infrastructure that need funding, it is difficult to consider spending upwards of $350M on a replacement stadium.”

But others say the $421 million cost of maintaining the stadium is far more than it would cost to build a new one.

Instead of pouring money into the old stadium, the team wants to monetize the entire 98-acre property and create more opportunities for the public.

“Such as community facilities, open spaces for gathering, education, cultural development, and affordable housing,” said Department of Accounting and General Services Public Works Administrator Chris Kinimaka.

The state Legislature is currently advancing bills to create the new entertainment district.

“We understand that we have one chance in getting this right in terms of maintaining people’s trust and excitement about the project,” said Adam Shaw, WT Partnership Executive Vice President.

There is no target date for completion because funds aren’t available yet and they are still choosing a developer.

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