By Ferd Lewis
December 31, 2019
Updated 1:06 am
Despite pushing back the next step in the process of creating the replacement for Aloha Stadium, the state says its goal is still to have the new facility “ready for the 2023 University of Hawaii football season.”
The state was to have issued a request for qualifications to potential private sector bidders by today but confirmed Monday that the RFQs will now go out at some point in January instead.
An RFQ is issued to gauge levels of private sector interest in the project and assist the state in short-listing those who are able to demonstrate qualifications to undertake a so-called P-3 public-private partnership of this magnitude.
Originally, a post-Halloween 2019 issuance had been targeted and, then, subsequently pushed back to this month, the beginning of 2020, a critical year for the project.
“The New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District is a major P-3 project that has many stakeholders, so we need to take the time necessary to ensure that the interests and concerns of these constituents are well represented in the RFQ document,” said Chris Kinimaka, public works administrator for the State Department of Accounting and General Services, in reply to questions from the Star-Advertiser.
“Several experienced and accomplished developers are interested in receiving the RFQ. Therefore, we want to make sure it is thoroughly reviewed by all necessary parties before distributing it in January,” Kinimaka said. “This is a few weeks later than we previously planned, but our decision to straddle the holidays ensures that our RFQ will be vetted at the comprehensive level essential for such an important endeavor.”
Based upon the RFQ replies, a short list of developers to receive requests for proposals is projected to be determined in the first quarter of 2020. The environmental impact study is due by the end of the second quarter, with the financial close with the selected developer in the third quarter. The start of construction on the stadium will be up to the developer and could commence in 2021.
To help keep the project on track, there is discussion that the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which was to have taken the lead, should be shifted to an advisory role to the Stadium Authority and DAGS.
Act 168, which was signed by Gov. David Ige in July, authorized the HCDA to facilitate the
development of all state property within the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District and appropriated
$350 million — $180 million in reimbursable revenue bonds, $150 million in general obligation bonds
and $20 million in capital — for the state’s share.
The developer would finance, build and maintain the new stadium for development rights on the 96-
acre parcel, reducing taxpayer costs.
Some on the 17-member HCDA have questioned whether they would be able to meet stated time lines,
which is said to have raised “red flags” with some legislators.
“We have to introduce a bill to clearly delineate what the responsibilities and roles are,” said Sen. Glenn
Wakai (D, Kalihi, Salt Lake and Pearl Harbor), who chairs the committee on Energy, Economic
Development and Tourism. “We can’t really have those folks kind of (slowing) the process.”
Wakai said he has confidence in the Stadium Authority. “There are some really good minds on that
board, so I have faith in the Stadium Authority to come up with something that is going to be dynamic
and exciting for the people of Hawaii.”
He said, “The public deserves to have this done on time and on budget.”
Delays could result in additional millions of dollars for basic health and safety costs just to keep the now
45-year-old stadium operable until the new facility rises next door.
UH lists a Sept. 2 game with Albany as its first 2023 home game. The Rainbow Warriors are scheduled
to debut Aug. 26 against Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn.
Kinimaka said, “The NASED team is fully engaged and working collaboratively with everyone involved.
Our goal of having the new Aloha Stadium ready for the 2023 UH football season is ambitious, but we
believe it can be achieved with the support of state officials, community leaders and strategic partners.”
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