By Ferd Lewis
February 12, 2021
Even if the Legislature appropriated funds to repair portions of crumbling Aloha Stadium, it is unlikely the facility would be ready in time for University of Hawaii to play in front of fans there this season, the State Comptroller said Thursday.
“The timing is such that I don’t think we could get the stadium repaired in a way that would provide a safe venue for our public this season,” said Curt Otaguro, who heads the Department of Accounting and General Services.
“So I think this season is not in the picture unless they want to play without fans, which is not the most preferred (option), obviously,” Otaguro said.
The Rainbow Warriors’ home opener with Portland State is scheduled for Sept. 4 and UH has said it is moving toward playing its six-game home schedule on campus at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletic Complex.
Athletic director David Matlin has estimated it will cost the athletic department $6 million to retrofit the Ching Complex, where UH hopes to be able to accommodate crowds of up to 10,000.
Health and safety repairs at Aloha Stadium, many of which have been delayed for years, are estimated to cost in the tens of millions of dollars, pending an updated forensic structural analysis.
Otaguro said, “Unfortunately the legislative session is going on as we speak and the soonest that we could get appropriated money would be at the end the of the session, which I think they are going to end early this year, in the end of April. So, maybe, if we were lucky we could get funding by June, before the fiscal year ends.”
However, Oraguro noted, “That is just to get the money. Then we have to get the consultant (report) back and assess and prioritize which areas (need the repairs). We could start the repairs, but I don’t think (they) would be done by the end of August in time for the season to start. That’s one issue. The second is all of our issue, will we be in a position for the state to allow large gatherings again even though the vaccine is coming out? That’s a big what-if. And, so, even if we could open the number of fans in the stadium — or any venue for that matter — remains unknown.
Otaguro said, “(Gov. David Ige) has asked what will it take to re-open parts of the stadium so we can allow people there? And, so what we have told him is we will need to (do) the study, engage with our engineers to do the assessment first to determine how much more corrosion has occurred in the problem areas that we have already identified.”
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