By Ferd Lewis
February 9, 2021
Gov. David Ige questioned the wisdom of spending $350 million for a successor to Aloha Stadium and suggested the state invest further in the repair and maintenance of the deteriorating facility to keep it “usable for the University (of Hawaii) for many, many years to come.”
The comments on Monday, during a wide-ranging interview on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii, quickly stunned some legislators and proponents of the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District.
“His announcement caught me by surprise and caught many advocates by surprise, and I question the wisdom of saying that we should pour any more money into keeping a 46-year-old rusting stadium alive for much longer,” said Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Pearl Harbor-Kalihi), in whose district the stadium sits.
“We should really be done with that and put all of our valuable resources into something better for the public. His decision is taking us backward, not taking us forward,” Wakai said.
Ige said, “I’ve really been supportive that we ought to make the investments in repair and maintenance on Aloha Stadium. I’ve been to events there. I think we made significant investments to improve the current structure. I believe it is safe…”
Ige added, “There are a lot of things that we could do within the existing facility that would make it usable for the university for many, many years to come. And that would, in the overall scheme of things, cost us less in construction funds than we are currently talking about. The biggest challenge right now is that a replacement stadium would cost $350 million or more. And that’s really hard to take away from public schools and university needs, not to mention our health care and health needs that we have here in the state. That’s the biggest challenge. The current stadium is still safe and usable and we ought to be maximizing the use of it.”
Ige’s comments came as UH is gearing up to spend an estimated $6 million to retrofit the Clarence T. C. Ching Athletic Complex for use as an on-campus home for the football team for several years beginning with the 2021 season. The Aloha Stadium Authority announced in December that its facility would not be available.
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