EXCLUSIVE: UH puts out request for proposed new stadium

EXCLUSIVE: UH puts out request for proposed new stadium
Published: Mar. 15, 2014 at 3:11 AM HST|Updated: Mar. 15, 2014 at 12:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - How much would it cost to build a 30,000-seat stadium on Oahu? That's what the University of Hawaii wants to know.

The school surprised some lawmakers this week when it put out a request for price quotes on what would be the biggest building project in UH history.

UH isn't saying where or when the new stadium would be built. But one reason for the university to build its own stadium is that it wouldn't have to pay rent to use the aging Aloha Stadium.

The request from the UH Manoa Athletics Department asks for architects to come up with designs and a price tag for a 30,000-seat "multipurpose event facility," big enough for football games and concerts.

"It's a surprise. We had no knowledge of this," said state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. "I checked with our Ways and Means chair, I checked with the House chair, I checked with our Higher Ed chair -- nobody knows anything about this."

State Rep. Mark Takai (D-Newtown, Waimalu) also didn't have advance notice, but likes that UH is doing its research before asking for money.

"To expect the university to have a plan on the spot and to come to us and ask for hundreds of millions (of dollars), I think, is irresponsible," he said.

Takai, who has supported new stadium proposals in the past, also likes that the UH request asks for some "premium club seating," along with suites, similar to those found in mainland stadiums, because those would bring in added revenue.

Designers are also being asked to use nostalgic elements reminiscent of the old Honolulu Stadium.

Kim believes it's a bit much for a school that's already missing deadlines in building practice field facility in Manoa.

"They can't even build the T.C. Ching facility on time and on budget, and now they're embarking on a 30,000-seat stadium which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars," said Kim.

Meanwhile, Takai has another concern. "The only problem with a 30,000-seat stadium is that we jeopardize the Pro Bowl, which is a big deal. So we've got to take a look at that very carefully," he said.

The NFL all-star game has packed in nearly 50,000 fans.

The request makes no mention of the future of Aloha Stadium. It also says the work is preliminary, and that no site selection is part of the request. UH has a goal of having the design concepts complete in 60 days.

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