Sources: Tentative deal would put UH in charge of developing, managing new Aloha Stadium

The plan is in the very early stages, and has a long way to go before being formalized.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 4:36 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 5:20 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii News Now has learned of a tentative deal that would have the University of Hawaii take over development of a new Aloha Stadium of Halawa and its management.

The details are emerging in light of the governor’s unexpected decision to cancel plans seeking developers for the stadium and neighboring entertainment complex.

Sources say there are still a few important hoops to jump through in formalizing the deal, including approvals by the university leadership, the Board of Regents and the Stadium Authority.

”We want to do it as quickly as possible. We now believe we have the appropriations necessary to really complete the project for the first time,” Gov. David Ige said, on the Honolulu Star Advertiser’s Spotlight Wednesday.

The governor says having the $350 million for construction, and $50 million for operations mean there’s no need for a partnership with private developers.

He halted the process of choosing from three interested development teams.

“We anticipate just simplifying rather than a complicated public private partnership,” Ige said.

Some lawmakers think the idea is for the better.

“There’s discomfort in just turning over the development of public lands and huge, huge, vast amount of public lands to a development team,” said Sylvia Luke, a candidate for lieutenant governor.

The other surprise under the tentative plan is to have the University of Hawaii build and operate it, using its insight as a major stadium user.

The idea points to their experience building campus facilities, including the rapid improvements to Ching Stadium.

“They have the ability to build large projects in a very short amount of time. So that’s what gave us significant amount of confidence,” Luke said.

State Sen. Glenn Wakai was the champion of the public-private partnership because he says they could bring more innovation and creative uses of the stadium rather than just football.

“We cannot continue to build for one singular purpose, which is to build a football stadium,” he said.

The governor says all of the planning and environmental studies up to now will be helpful to a more traditional and less complex government-run design and building process, and other developments at Halawa can wait.

“Think about what housing and what we would need to do to move forward with the housing there,” Ige said.

“Obviously, the entertainment district is something that is of interest, but clearly, we want to get the stadium portion of the project done and completed as quickly as possible.”