HONOLULU (KHON2) — Big plans are underway for the Neil S. Blaisdell Center.
More than $43 million will go toward renovating the concert hall, arena and exhibition center — closures are right around the corner.
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The Blaisdell Center was built in 1964 and is due for some upgrades in 2023.
Lights in the arena will be modernized to be more energy efficient while dressing rooms will be renovated and more family bathrooms will be added for the public.
The Events and Services administrator said the venue has hosted so many events since 1964.
“And, even if they come for one event, it really does make a lasting memory; and we want to support that,” Mary Lewis said.
The arena is scheduled to close in May, and the closure will last through November, which meant schools with planned graduations needed to do a bit of shuffling. The Waikiki Shell and Stan Sheriff Center were options.
“They’ve all seemed to find another home, and we have about 10,” Lewis said, “so, we’re squeezing them all in. And, that’s one of the reasons why we waited for the concert hall to start on July 1; so, we could get through our graduations and our final season.”
That concert hall closure will last about one year, with a majority of work done backstage and in the dressing rooms. Leaky roofs are a concern but possibly not the biggest issue.
“Actually, the fire protection, that’s been the biggest challenge because it’s the original system; and you can’t add anything to it anymore,” said John Condrey, Department of Design and Construction project manager. “And, it’s getting very hard to find replacement parts. The electrical is another big challenge. Architecturally, we can repair a structure; and we can take care of those things.”
The arena will be the biggest loss since Aloha Stadium for concert promoters. Dream Weekend — who recently brought Common Kings and Steel Pulse to the Blaisdell — said it is also a loss for workers.
“You know, security, staffing, front of house, promotions, marketing, even advertising on platforms like KHON News,” said Jonny Mack, Dream Weekend co-founder. “And even more so, I think cultural impact that we’re losing out in Hawaii. We shouldn’t have to fly to the mainland to go experience shows of national caliber.”
The exhibition hall is also scheduled for a three-month closure in June, but Lewis had an optimistic outlook for when the whole center opens once again.
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“We’re able to serve small business. We’re able to serve the community by bringing events here; and it is, that’s just a joy,” Lewis said.
The project is expected to cost $43.6 million.