Honolulu Star-Advertiser


By Ferd Lewis

September 25, 2020

The projected Sept. 2, 2023, opening of the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District is in danger of being pushed back, officials suggested Thursday, a move which could add $20 million or more to the price tag.

The acknowledgement came during a briefing at an Aloha Stadium Authority meeting.

State officials had targeted the debut to coincide with the University of Hawaii’s 2023 home football opener against Albany.

No new target date was given during the two-hour long video conference.

“We were talking about a fall football 2023 (opening). Clearly, the current process we find ourselves in and the delays we have encountered at this point have put (a question) on that delivery date,” said Stacey Jones, a consultant on the project, told the Stadium Authority.

“So, clearly we have an opening date that depends on the selection of the winning (bidder) and the selection of the winner depends on the completion and release of the request for proposal,” Jones said. “And all I can say about the RFP is that its completion date is rapidly approaching and we have a couple of obstacles, if you will, to sort out between now and then.”

But, as a caveat, Jones added, “We will be discussing the schedule with each of the potential developers and construction teams (and) will hear from the horse’s mouths as to what they anticipate a schedule to be.”

A winning developer-led team is projected to be chosen, “before the end of the year,” the state said.

He said, “The construction period is at least 2.5 years, so, looking into the future, you can kind of do your own math when it would be open.”

A setback, an industry leader had said in July, could add “at least $20 million” to the construction costs.

The state has appropriated up to $350 million for the project with the remainder to come from the eventual developer in a public-private partnership.

The major holdup has been the deferral of Senate Bill 2940 in the last session of the Legislature due to a language flaw. “The non-passage of 2940 that would have transferred the Stadium Development District from the Hawaii Community Development Authority to the Stadium Authority has delayed the release of the RFP. This will have a direct effect on the project schedule,” said Chris Kinimaka, Public Works Administrator for the Department of Accounting and General Services.

“The team is developing arrangements to minimize and quantify this impact. We will likely have a better idea after we complete our due diligence and open up discussions with the short-listed respondents,” Kinimaka said.

State officials had held out hope that a special session would be convened in July or August to discuss additional federal funds for COVID-19 relief. But Congress has so far been unable to reach agreement on additional appropriations.