Honolulu Star-Advertiser


By Ferd Lewis

February 12, 2021

Without a $1.5 million emergency appropriation from the legislature this session, Aloha Stadium might have to cease operations, lawmakers have been told.

With its ability to hold large events impacted by COVID-19, the facility is seeking budgetary assistance for the first time in its 46-year history in order to finish the current fiscal year that concludes June 30 and stay open in July.

The request is separate from any health and safety repairs and maintenance but does include $300,000 to pay for a forensic structural assessment of the decaying facility.

“I don’t want to be doomsday, but if you have no help from the legislature come the end of the fiscal year, come the end of June, what does that mean?” state Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Kalihi-Pearl Harbor) asked stadium officials in a hearing on Senate Bill 1033. “Do you just shutter the place and walk away? What happen if you don’t get any kind of assistance?”

Stadium manager Scott Chan said, “I would hate to say that, but the only alternative that I know is we’re going to have to shut down. There no other way for us to pay for our expenses.”

The stadium does not receive an annual appropriation for operations from the state and relies on the revenue from the events it hosts to fund its $9 million annual budget.

Without the upfront money from the state, Comptroller Curt Otaguro termed it a, “You gotta hunt what you eat” arrangement.

But with concerts and other large events canceled since March, swap meets cut back and football games held without fans, the facility has been running at as much as a $4.6 million shortfall.

Deputy Stadium Manager Ryan Andrews said expenses have been trimmed, temporary employees laid off, new revenue sources sought and leftover cash from previous years used to narrow the deficit.

Still, Chan said, “Our rough estimates show us that our cash balance will be in jeopardy. We just want to make sure that we don’t get to that point. We’re hoping that what we do now will carry us a little further.”