Honolulu Star-Advertiser

By Ferd Lewis
September 12, 2019
Updated 8:33 a.m.

Having the new Aloha Stadium ready for a 2023 football season opening is “eminently do-able, sensible and economical,” said the head of the company overseeing the project for the state.

In his first public comments on the planning for the facility, Stacey Jones, owner and a senior principal of Kansas City-based Crawford Architects, said, “What we’re allowing is a design and construction period of somewhere a little less than three years which, in our experience, is ample time to deliver the stadium plus whatever constitutes the first phase of development …”

Jones said, “I mean, there is an imperative, right, to get out of this old stadium as quickly as possible without being hasty about it. It doesn’t exactly fulfill the customer satisfaction requirements it did when it was built back in (1975). It has ongoing deferred maintenance problems and issues that are expensive to address and is getting more expensive. The longer it takes to build the new stadium the more expensive it becomes because of inflation and other demands.”

Aloha Stadium opened in 1975 but the price tag on remediation of rust and other issues has run several times the initial $37 million cost.

The Legislature approved $350 million in a combination of general funds ($20 million), reimbursable revenue bonds ($180 million) and general obligation bonds ($150 million) to help finance the project in partnership with a yet-to-be-selected private developer as a so-called “P-3” project.

Normally when stadium projects “are delivered by a governmental agency, city, state, country, they take their time because they are not incentivized by the elements of commercial return and immediacy as when you bring in a private developer,” Jones said. “When you have a P-3 environment, things just move more quickly.”

To help achieve the goal of a 2023 opening, Jones said, “We’re anticipating running two parallel streams. The first, the statutory requirement of the environmental impact statement, has already commenced,” Jones said, while officials work toward setting up the request for qualification of potential partners and a request for proposals.

He said the goal is to have the environmental impact statement completed by the end of July 2020 and the requests for qualifications out to the development community by Halloween 2019 and have responses back by Thanksgiving 2019.

The state is paying Crawford Architects $5 million to conduct an EIS and master plan while helping to shepherd the process to completion. The company, which recently completed a 200-acre, multiple-use development for the Minnesota Vikings, said it is talking with another NFL team and has worked on several continents.