Honolulu Star-Advrtiser


By Ferd Lewis

June 29, 2020

Re-opening seating in the long-closed upper deck end zone sections is among the considerations as the University of Hawaii and Aloha Stadium study possible scenarios for social distancing this football season.

“We’re looking at models that would include everything,” UH athletic director David Matlin said.

City, state and university COVID-19 guidelines permitting, the Rainbow Warriors’ home opener against UCLA is scheduled for Sept. 5. The scheduled season opener is Aug. 29 at Arizona.

In recent months Matlin, stadium manager Scott Chan and their staffs have looked at various models including 10% of capacity on up, including family pods.

Seat straps are being purchased for seats that will be closed for distancing.

“At the end of the day you’re looking at the best practices and the guidelines by the various governmental agencies as you try to come up with some different, creative solutions that can maximize what we do in a safe manner,” Matlin said.

Last year UH attendance averaged 20,520 a game, 41% of the stadium’s capacity.

Due to low attendance, the upper deck end zone sections have been closed for several years as a cost-saving measure.

“To the extent possible under regulations, we want to plan to have as many as we can,” said Ross Yamasaki, chairman of the Aloha Stadium Authority.

UH is also exploring distancing options at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Rainbow Wahine schedule has yet to be announced, but are expected to debut Aug. 28 in a four-team tournament it will host.

Should the attendance restrictions become severe, UH said it would take care of its season-ticket holders first.

At Aloha Stadium, officials said dividers are being installed between urinals and between sinks in the restrooms. Additionally, Plexiglas will be installed at various points of contact between patrons and staff.

In other news, Chan’s contract as stadium manager was extended by two years through June 2022 by the Aloha Stadium Authority. He was first hired at the stadium in 1995 as an assistant events manager and has run the facility since 2007.