State, businesses weighing fallout from canceled U.S. soccer match
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While thousands of soccer fans will be getting refunds for the canceled match between the U.S women's team and Trinidad and Tobago, the state is hoping to avoid paying U.S. soccer officials more than $200,000 to help sponsor the event.
The game was canceled less than 24 hours before the game after players said Aloha Stadium was unsafe. The Hawaii Tourism Authority was one of the game's marketing sponsors and has signed a contract to pick up a large chunk of the game's promotional costs.
"I believe that $200,000 should not be paid. Not with the way it happened," said former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.
The money was supposed to come from the state-run Hawaii Tourism Authority. Its contract required the tourism agency to pay $100,000, or half of that money, by the end of last month and the rest at the end of the year.
But so far it has not paid a dime yet. HTA declined comment when asked if it will pay.
"None of the sponsorship funds have been paid out, as HTA has never received an original, fully executed ... contract," HTA CEO George Szigeti said in a statement.
The cancellation has also hurt some local, small businesses.
Bob Picerno, owner of the Soccer Locker on Kapahulu Avenue, said many fans ordered official jerseys to wear to the game. But after the cancellation, some asked for refunds.
"We had ordered about $6,000 worth of jerseys. We're going to get stuck with probably half of that," Picerno said.
"The biggest impact was on people who came in from the outer islands and there were a lot."
Big Island resident Jesse Kerr says he traveled here with a group of seven avid soccer fans from Hilo, hoping to get a glimpse of the World Cup champions in action.
While their tickets will be refunded, they're out several thousand dollars for hotel costs and air fare.
"They were bummed. The whole group was bummed," Kerr said.
"They've been saving for this and all of the parents agreed this was their Christmas present."
A review of the U.S. Soccer Federation's contract with the Aloha Stadium Authority does not contain that type of language calling for penalties over the cancellations. Typically, contracts will include language calling for damages in case of disputes over failure to perform.
"To have something like this happen at the 11th hour, there should have been some language in the contract that made it almost impossible, save an act of nature, to have such a cancellation," Hannemann said.
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