Honolulu Star-Advertiser


By Ferd Lewis

May 13, 2020

While the state Legislature intends to pull back $20 million in general funds that had been appropriated to help build the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District, it still expects to allot a full $350 million in financing to the project, lawmakers said Tuesday.

Legislators said on Monday that recalling the $20 million in cash was one area to help stabilize the current budget so they could avoid public-worker pay cuts in the wake of the COVID-19 impact on revenue.

Last year the Legislature appropriated up to $350 million in a combination of $20 million cash, $150 million in general obligation bonds and $180 million in revenue bonds toward the P3 public-private partnership. The eventual private sector partner will finance some of the construction costs as well as maintain the facility to account for the total cost of the facility.

“Because the stadium build-out has not used the $20 million in cash that we gave them, we’re swapping out the cash with bond funds, which will be reflected in the capital improvement bill. So, it is basically a dollar-for-dollar trade and not shorting the project,” Rep. Sylvia Luke (D, Makiki, Nuuanu) responded in a text.

The general obligation bonds will be upped to $170 million, which will be paid out over 20 years.

State Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Kalihi) said, “If you and I were out eating at a restaurant, the bill was $50 and you put up $30 in cash and I put up $20 on a credit card, the bill still gets paid. The restaurant’s got $50, just by two different means.”

“We understand and support the need to use general revenues for financial issues related to COVID-19. As the bulk of the funding is targeted for work related to the NASED project and the funding source is being shifted to GO bonds, this decision will not negatively impact our NASED efforts,” said Chris Kinimaka, public works administrator for the Dept. of Accounting and General Services.

Luke said, “The project is still on track with the request for qualifications coming soon.”

Responses to the RFQ, in which prospective partners detail their experience in similar projects and financial wherewithal to undertake the NASED project, are due May 26. Up to three finalists will be selected to receive a request for proposal.

A Sept. 2, 2023 opening is targeted.