Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Hawaii News

By Ferd Lewis

February 10, 2021

A bill that is supposed to clarify the governance of the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District is in need of further clarity itself, the chairman of the House Committee on Water and Land said at Tuesday’s hearing.

The committee unanimously passed HB 1348 out of committee but with an amendment recommended by its chairman, Rep. David Tarnas (D, North Kona-North Kohala), that would require a memorandum of agreement between the Hawaii Community Development Authority and the Aloha Stadium Authority.

Tarnas said the MOA is necessary “because it is not clear from HCDA how they are going to work with the stadium authority. I would like to specify that the stadium authority is required to establish a memorandum of agreement with HCDA that describes how the two entities will operate to implement this measure.”

Addressing the HCDA and stadium authority, Tarnas said, “The two of you need to figure this out through an MOA.”

Originally, the HCDA was given oversight over the project, for which the state has appropriated $350 million to build a successor to the 46-year-old stadium as an anchor of a 98-acre public-private partnership with a developer yet to be named.

But a decision was made last year to streamline the process by giving the stadium authority overall jurisdiction. However, a flaw in the language of that bill kept it from passage last session, delaying the progress of the project by several months.

This session, HB 1348 and the Senate bill that mirrors it, SB 1423, were to have corrected the flaw and ironed out governance issues.

In testimony, Deepak Neupane, HCDA executive director, said, “The HCDA has concerns that the act assigns fiduciary duties to the HCDA without providing any oversight authority over the project implementation. HCDA’s role is not clear.”

With the amendment, HB 1348 goes to a joint hearing of the Consumer Protection and Commerce and the Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs committees.