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HONOLULU (KHON2) – The New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District (NASED) team held a video conference on Wednesday, February 17 to provide an update on the plans and timeline for the project.
Aloha Stadium officials last week confirmed to the State Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development and Tourism that keeping fans at the site was not safe, unless major repairs were made. The state has invested significant funds to keep the existing stadium, but the NASED team finds it more effective to create an entire neighborhood as a long-term investment.
The NASED team also believes that now is the right time to start a project of this magnitude in order to achieve faster returns, even with current budget challenges. The stadium would only be the first room in a critical phase to start the district, according to state comptroller Curt Otaguro.
However, Governor David Ige challenged the NASED team to continue to explore all options. Ige said the full cost of a new stadium was out of the state budget.
“Our tax challenges are real. So we have to carefully review everything we do, ”said Otaguro. “We have an obligation to all of you and to the governor to recheck all the different options to allow the fans to go to the stadium again.”
Otaguro, who oversees the public works division involved in planning the stadium, said there are still plans to keep the stadium operational while they build a new one. The University of Hawaii is always an important part of the equation, he said. Otaguro also pointed out that the stadium continues to rust as talks drag on between the state and the university.
“Rust doesn’t sleep” was the message the panel echoed at Wednesday’s conference.
Otaguro said he asked UH sporting director David Matlin to “think outside the box” if the new Aloha stadium is not accepted. There are other possible sites that might work for football matches, he said.
Public works administrator Chris Kinimaka said the cost of restoring the standing stadium will be more than building a new structure. A redevelopment report prepared for the state in 2017 determined that the cost of a complete renovation of Aloha Stadium would cost more than $ 420 million, while a new stadium would cost $ 350 million.
Kinimaka said: “This number would probably increase a lot more because we know the corrosion has evolved.”
Kinimaka said the state could have more flexibility by not having to put the cost of the project up front through a public-private partnership.
Kinimaka said, “Possible alternatives when we do a P3 that can help us sustain ourselves, both immediately with construction and then deferring payment to a time when our income will hopefully increase.
The plan calls for a 35,000-seat stadium and is expected to cover 98 acres. It includes modernizing the space by building mixed-use developments, a train station, hotels, shopping malls and more. The proposed changes aim to improve the stadium’s current operations as the financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continue.
In December 2020, state officials published a draft environmental impact statement detailing the project’s impacts on the surrounding environment. Residents of Hawaii could comment on the proposal by February 8, 2021.
There are currently three bidders for the NASED project and there is no timeline for when it will be completed.
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