Chorus grow for New Aloha Stadium in Halawa


Hawaii voters prefer new Aloha Stadium in Halawa Image: Crawford Architects

Some key decisions the State of Hawaii (US) will need to make regarding University of Hawaii athletics are not easy ones.

‘The Star Advertiser’ stated that the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Hawaii Poll asked registered voters their opinion on whether a New Aloha Stadium should be built as part of a major development in Halawa, Hawaii, or whether the home of University of Hawaii football should be at the Clarence T.C. Ching Complex in Honolulu, Hawaii, as it continues to expand over the coming years.

Just eight percentage points separated the 46 percent who voted for a new stadium in Halawa from the 38 percent who want the stadium to be on the University of Hawaii Mānoa campus. That doesn’t include one out of every six responders who said they were either unsure or didn’t approve of either idea.

The New Aloha Stadium is a proposed 35,000-seat multipurpose stadium to be built in Halawa, Hawaii for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football program, starting in Fall 2023.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is a public land-grant research university in Mānoa, a neighborhood in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. It is the flagship campus of the University of Hawaiʻi system and houses the main offices of the system.

The 15,000-capacity Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex, located on the campus of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Honolulu, features a three-story building next to an all-purpose track and Clarence T. C. Ching Field.

Said poll respondent Christopher Oli-veira, 38, of Waianae, Hawaii, “I think if you just look at fiscally how the State has been going since 2000, the last thing they need to do is build a new stadium. We invite only one or two big events a year … and not only that, looking into the future, I don’t see big events being what they were with the Internet taking over after COVID shut down society.”

‘The Star Advertiser’ further stated that the Hawaii Poll was conducted from January 24th to 28th over telephone by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy of Washington, D.C. It includes 800 registered Hawaii voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The multisport stadium would be part of the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District (NASED), which would include high-rise housing, a hotel, offices and retail and commercial businesses in addition to the proposed 35,000-seat stadium, which would be home to University of Hawaii football. The NASED plan is expected to cover 98 acres. It includes modernizing the space by building mixed-use developments.

The State Department of Accounting and General Services are expecting $350 million in State taxpayer financing.

Poll respondent Denise Kenoa of Hilo put in, “I haven’t been to Aloha Stadium in years, but I think that we need it. There are so many other things I really wish we would take care of first, though, like our homeless situation.”

The University of Hawaii Athletic Director, David Matlin, said during an appearance on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s ‘Spotlight Hawaii’ livestream program that he can see the future home of University of Hawaii football in either location.

His pressing issue is time. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has a minimum attendance requirement of an average of 15,000 people per game once every two years to maintain Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) (highest level of college football in the United States) status.

Obviously, to get that, a program needs a stadium with at least 15,000 seats. The Ching Complex could hold up to 9,000 fans for this past University of Hawaii football season, and Matlin said they expect to add roughly 1,000 seats for next year before hitting the 15,000 mark by 2023.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student athletes from up to 1,268 North American institutions and conferences.

The University of Hawaii has received an exemption regarding that two-year window due to special circumstances, but it is not a given it will continue to get one without a legitimate facility that meets the standard requirements.

Construction of the new stadium in Halawa isn’t expected to begin until 2023.

Added Matlin, “We need to have a solid plan and have a timetable of when, because that will help us in so many areas. That’s our big target now. Our plan is to get to where we meet the criteria by 2023. That’s why we have to go on parallel tracks. We have to have Clarence T.C. Ching Complex ready for the foreseeable future, but hopefully it won’t be as long as anticipated.”

The original Aloha Stadium was built with a capacity of 50,000, which was big enough for the National Football League (NFL) to decide to bring its Pro Bowl All-Star game to the stadium from 1980 to 2016.

For many responders in the poll, building the stadium in Halawa was more important for hosting entertainment and other sporting events instead of just University of Hawaii football.

Opined poll respondent Raynette Mariano, 46, of Waianae, “I would really love for the Pro Bowl to come back to Hawaii. I think that having things like that in Hawaii helps us, and so why not build a stadium? With what we are doing with rail and how much money we’re expecting it to cost, that $350 million, that’s nothing.”

In other questions related to University of Hawaii athletics, 44 percent of responders said fewer resources should be spent on sports as a way of handling the large financial deficits the department has taken on in recent years, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused maximum ravages in the United States.

Thirty-four percent said the State should provide more financial support for University of Hawaii sports, while only six percent felt the school should charge higher student fees to subsidize athletics.

The most agreement on a subject came with 47 percent of responders saying the University of Hawaii Athletic Department should have handled the situation involving former football coach Todd Graham and his relationships with his players that ultimately led to the coach deciding to resign from the position instead of allowing lawmakers to get involved.

Graham stepped down after two seasons as head coach a week after a Senate information briefing was held to address complaints about the program and why so many players decided to transfer after the regular season ended.

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