Its do-or-die scene for Hawai’i NASED plans


New Aloha stadium bidders down to one Image: NASED

Within the deteriorating husk of the Aloha Stadium in Hālawa, Hawai’i (US) there remains an undergirding of belief that the State has a blueprint for the long-awaited construction of a successor venue.

‘SPECTRUM NEWS’ stated that the next three months will be crucial to its realization – or relegation to the drawing board.

The 50,000-capacity Aloha Stadium is a closed multipurpose stadium located in Hālawa, Hawai’i (US), a Census-designated place that is a Western suburb of Honolulu. It is the largest stadium in the State of Hawai’i.

The New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District (NASED) is a project to redevelop the 98-acre Aloha Stadium site in Hālawa, Hawai’i (US) into a mixed-use district that will include a new stadium, a community and other amenities.

The New Aloha Stadium will have a reduced seating capacity of a minimum of 25,000, compared to the current 50,000 seats. It will be designed to accommodate the various sports and entertainment events, such as football, soccer, rugby, and others played on a rectangular field.

‘SPECTRUM NEWS’ further stated that optimism from the Stadium Authority and the fellow New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District (NASED) stakeholders was publicly unshaken by the recent news that the number of bidding groups vying to build and operate a new stadium and the surrounding amenities in Hālawa was halved from two to one.

The Authority Board members and the Aloha Stadium Manager Ryan Andrews pointed out during the June 27th monthly meeting at the shuttered site that the Request for Proposals (RFPs) process already called for the bidders to be whittled down to a single “preferred offeror” by September.

A request for proposal (RFP) is a document that solicits a proposal, often made through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in the procurement of a commodity, service, or valuable asset, to the potential suppliers to submit business proposals.

That remains the timeline and that the offeror will be the Aloha Halawa District Partners (AHDP) by default – but only if the consortium, a mix of the local and remote companies, agrees to a framework of criteria laid out in the RFP. The AHDP has until July 31st to submit a detailed proposal for the 98-acre site.

In the days since the June 21st NASED press release that announced that the Waiola Development Partners had dropped out, the Stadium Authority Chair Brennon Morioka combat the notion that the State faces a disadvantageous position in negotiations with the last bidder.

The Stadium Authority consists of eight members appointed by the Governor of Hawai’i with the advice and consent of the Senate.

He is confident in the process. He also said that if the NASED Committee and the AHDP cannot come to an agreement on major terms between July and September, the State can and will walk – “If we move forward on this kind of investment, $400 million in (State money), we have to get something of significant value to the State and the community. That’s our job as the Board members, as the people trying to be stewards of the taxpayer money. This is the most important thing that we’re tasked with right now.”

Backing away would mean restarting the RFP procurement process – again – for a project that was originally envisioned to be completed in 2023. For its latest timeline, the State has maintained that the new stadium will be ready in 2028.

After the final meeting of his eight-year Stadium Authority term, Board Member John Fink said he felt things are aligned like few other moments for NASED. But, he acknowledged, another procurement restart could mean a pushback to 2029 or 2030 and muddle matters with the University of Hawai’i (UH) and the other prospective tenants – “There have been stumbling blocks along the way, but I do feel now that we have everybody who needs to be on the same page, on the same page, and … this thing should move forward and we can watch the UH play the University of Kansas in August of 2028.”

After one year on the job as the University of Hawai’i Athletic Director and witnessing the constraints of the makeshift home of the Rainbow Warrior football, Craig Angelos wants the UH out of the 15,000-seat Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex as soon as possible after the 2027 season.

The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football team represents the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football.

The 16,909-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 the Clarence T. C. Ching Field. It serves as the home arena of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football.

Indianapolis (US)-based the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student athletics among about 1,100 schools in the United States and one in Canada. It also organizes the athletic programs of the colleges and helps over 500,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports.

The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as the Division I-A, is the highest level of college football in the United States. The FBS consists of the largest schools in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. As of the 2024 season, there are 10 Conferences and 134 schools in the FBS.

The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as the Division I-A, is the highest level of college football in the United States. The FBS consists of the largest schools in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). As of the 2024 season, there are 10 Conferences and 134 schools in the FBS.

Angelos, who was on the mainland on June 27th, said he has been appraised of the latest regarding the RFP process – “I’m still really hopeful that we can get that stadium out there on time. We can get to a new field and be competitive with our peers. It helps with recruiting, game environment, all sorts of those things.”

An offsite stadium would also allow for plans to transform the Ching Complex into a multisport athlete performance center and designated practice football field.

The RFP stadium criteria include a minimum of 25,000 seats with future expansion capability, 4,500 units of housing and 430,000 square feet of retail space. The AHDP would be responsible for the costs beyond the State’s capped contribution for tearing down of the old stadium and construction of the new one. It would also shoulder the costs of the surrounding infrastructure with the carrot that it would benefit in the long term of a 99-year land lease agreement.

If the NASED selects the AHDP as its master developer in September, it will attempt to work with the group on the specifics of the project planning over the next nine months and look to execute a contract in June 2025. The Stadium Authority said on June 27th that the timetable remains firm even with only one bidder left.

Morioka said that the NASED team had received some hints before last week that the Waiola District Partners was preparing to pull out of the process.

In a withdrawal letter to the NASED, the team cited a belief that it could not deliver a quality project up to its standards, Morioka said.

Maintained Morioka during the meeting, “While we’re disappointed with the WDP’s withdrawal, it would’ve been nice to have two (bidders), but we do look at this as an opportunity to move the project forward quicker, and … get into much more meaningful conversations with the (AHDP) about the entirety of their proposal. “Not just the concepts but the financial aspects as well.”

He said the NASED will save about $500,000 that it would’ve paid out to a losing bidder, and possibly a little more with a head start on negotiations with the AHDP.

The AHDP comprises the Development Ventures Group, Inc., (real estate developer from New York), the Stanford Carr Development, LLC, (a local development firm headquartered in Honolulu), the Ameresco, Inc. (renewable energy company from Framingham, US), and the Aloha Stadium Community Development, LLC (The Cordish Company – US-based real estate development and entertainment operating company) as the Lead Equity members, the RMA Architects based in Honolulu, the celebrated design studio Populous based in London (UK), the SB Architects (architecture and design firm based in San Francisco), Henning Larsen (design firm based in Copenhagen, Denmark), the Alakea Design Group (design firm based in Honolulu), and the WCIT Architecture (design firm based in Honolulu) as the design team, the Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Inc. (construction engineering company) and the AECOM Hunt (construction management company based in Indianapolis) as the construction team, the Castle & Cooke Hawaii (real estate company) and the Wilson Okamoto Corporation (multidisciplinary firm based in Honolulu) as the other team members.

In addition to Fink, it was the last stadium meeting for the outgoing Board Member Kau‘i Burgess. Both were hailed by their peers as instrumental to get the NASED initiative to this stage.

On a few occasions during the June 24th meeting, the members of the public listening in virtually were given an opportunity to provide testimony regarding NASED. None stepped forward.

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