Aiona and Green differ on 2 major unfinished projects: Aloha Stadium and Honolulu rail

Gov. David Ige has thrown the stadium redevelopment a curve by turning against the idea of having a partnership with private developers.
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 2:36 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 11, 2022 at 6:49 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige has thrown the stadium redevelopment a curve by turning against the idea of having a partnership with private developers of an adjoining entertainment district. But the men out to replace him have other ideas.

Supporters of the public-private partnership say it will provide both a higher-quality, multi-use stadium as well as housing, retail and other uses.

They say starting over, as Gov. Ige proposes, would be a waste of more than $20 million and three years spent planning it.

Democrat Josh Green was recently briefed on the partnership plan, and said he thinks it would get the stadium built more quickly than the usual government construction process, plus the private developers are required to build housing as well.


“We are in a housing crisis. If we just build a stadium that doesn’t have housing around it, we’re making a mistake,” Green said.

“So that will be my inclination. There’s been a lot of conversations in the community, which I think people appreciated all around Halawa. And when you have those communications and then you change the plan later in the game, you have to have the conversations all over again.”

The plan would take 20 years to build out completely.

Although the stadium and gateway project connecting it to roads and rail with housing, shopping and other facilities would be required first, the governor argues that the Legislature has appropriated enough — $350 million — to build a stadium without a private partner and wants a more traditional government-run project.

He said there was no money set aside for the other construction, which would have to be financed by the developers.

But Republican James “Duke” Aiona has a whole other concept, and doubts about the ability of the state to handle the project.

“I think we have a lot of examples of, you know, state-constructed projects that don’t go very well. And so I wouldn’t be in favor of that,” Aiona said.

Aiona believes the stadium, with the University of Hawaii’s football team being the primary customer, belongs on the UH-Manoa campus.

He says if he has the power, that’s what he’ll do.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Election 2022]

“If I’m elected, and I’m bound by whatever legal contracts they might have, then then so be it. But if there’s a way for me, to divert the construction of the stadium, to on campus, and if it can be done, because I’m not sure if it can be done,” Aiona said.

Both men would like to see housing along with other activities built at the Halawa site.

Green suggests 4,000 housing units, the same number as proposed in the public0private partnership plan which features mostly market-priced units.

Green emphasizes speed.

“So whatever I have to do to accelerate the project, I will do as soon as December comes along,” Green said.

As far as unfinished business with rail — the state’s main role has been providing the half-percent excise tax surcharge, which expires in eight years.

Aiona is dead set against extending it.

“It’s a city project,” Aiona said. “The city needs to finance it, however they want to finance it.”

But Green seems willing to consider an extension — so the project can reach its full potential, especially for housing along the route.

“I do think that the excise tax, if used, properly and used to build housing along that rail line would also be helpful. I’m very much in support of transit-oriented development,” he said.

Green estimates as many as 10,000 homes could be built along the line.