HALAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the site of next year's Pro Bowl still up in the air, lawmakers are tackling future plans for Aloha Stadium again. Ideas include building a brand new facility or creating a development around the existing one.
Fans filled Aloha Stadium last weekend for the Pro Bowl, but some lawmakers see a future beyond football.
"All sorts of ideas have come to the table so far -- everything from a hotel, a shopping center, affordable housing, business incubator, entertainment facilities," said state Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Kalihi-Aiea).
Wakai introduced a bill to develop the parking lot area around the stadium. Part of the 104 acres is federally deed restricted, but he wants to create a public-private partnership to fund development on the remaining property.
"I think if you talk to most people on the street, they see the value in turning what is fallow parking lot land into something that we can all be proud of and put money into the state coffers," Wakai said.
"That's our biggest struggle, not knowing what the future of the stadium is. There's so many different interested parties kind of tugging at us," said Nelson Oyadomari, chairman of the Stadium Authority.
Last June, the governor asked the members to resign so that he could move forward with a new team.
"We felt there were so many things that needed to be done that a break, a lack of continuity, would not have been in the best interest of the stadium or the state of Hawaii," explained Oyadomari. "So that's why none of the members stepped down."
Oyadomari said while health and safety issues at the stadium are covered, additional funding for capital improvement projects is on hold.
"We want to upgrade the facility to bring us up to today's ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards. We want to use revenue to put in more women's bathrooms. That's a big concern with the public," said Oyadomari.
"Still throwing money down that project is like throwing money down the drain," said state Rep. K. Mark Takai (D, Newtown-Waimalu)
Takai wants to tear down the aging stadium and build a new one, either at another spot on the current property or in central or west Oahu.
"If we're going do it correctly, we're going to have to bring in some private funds, whether it's a company, companies, or whether it's partnering with like the NFL as well," said Takai.
"It'll take 10, maybe 15 years to do that, and what do you do with football in the meantime? If you don't have regular maintenance on the stadium, we'd have to close it down," said Oyadomari.