Bringing the Blaisdell Center into the 21st century could cost $530M

Bringing the Blaisdell Center into the 21st century could cost $530M
Published: Nov. 7, 2017 at 1:36 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2017 at 8:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Community members had their third and final opportunity to weigh in on the future of the Neal S. Blaisdell Center on Wednesday evening.

As city officials begin to narrow down design concepts for the remodeled center, they hope to create an entertainment hotspot that brings together the community.

The exhibition hall would expand from 65,000 square feet to 95,000 square feet, the concert hall and the arena would be improved for visitors and performers, the number of parking stalls would rise from 1,400 to 2,300 and the city wants to extend Victoria Street near the Blaisdell to help ease traffic.

"Oahu's families have been creating memories at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center since 1964, but 53 years later, the complex is in need of a major makeover to keep up with entertainment venues across the country," Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

The latest cost estimate for the Blaisdell project is $534 million. The city is also setting aside another $107 million for contingency funds and another $51 million for inflation costs.

House Speaker Scott Saiki is asking the city to postpone the redevelopment until finances for the rail project have been resolved.

"My concern now is that Oahu taxpayers cannot afford another tax burden. Oahu taxpayers are being asked to pay for rail construction, rail operations," said State Rep. Saiki.

The city says master plan concepts also include:

• Expanding and modernizing signature venues
• Ability to stage events in multiple venues at the same time
• Enhanced water features and fish ponds
• Outdoor public spaces for informal performances
• Sustainable design features
• Restaurants, cafes and bars
• Honor the Blaisdell as a War Memorial as originally intended
• Additional parking and improved traffic circulation

These are some of the ideas pitched to help ensure the longevity and success of the Blaisdell as a community gathering place.

"It looks good but I think the devil is in the details and just seeing pictures, you don't know. My big concern last time was they're doing away with the box office because their feeling is that people are now doing everything mobile," said downtown Honolulu resident Lynne Matusow.

"By revisioning the Blaisdell Center as a place where our residents can watch great acts as well as enjoy the outdoors, we are creating an invaluable resource in the heart of urban Honolulu for the next 50 years and beyond," Caldwell added.

For more details on the workshop, click here.

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