Controversy surrounds NFL’s request to serve alcohol at new Pro Bowl event

Local News

Dozens turned out Friday to voice their opinion on a proposal that would allow alcoholic beverages at some events on Queen’s Beach in Waikiki.

The city says it’s not taking a position on this, but the Department of Parks and Recreation is putting the idea out there at the request of event organizers.Read the full proposal online here.

Ed Nishioka of DNA Communications has worked with NFL’s Pro Bowl for two decades. He says instead of an annual block party, the NFL wanted to “do something new and different” by utilizing the Sunset on the Beach area to host a Pro Bowl event.

Nishioka said it would be called the Pro Bowl Stadium Event, and would take place on Jan. 29 and 30, between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Alcoholic drinks would be served, not sold, to VIP guests only in a private area that would be clearly marked by barriers and fencing.

“This is not a private party on the beach. This is a big event for the general public to enjoy an NFL experience, and there’s a small component of it being the hospitality area,” Nishioka said. “So it’s not rich people buying out the beach. It’s not for sale. It’s in a controlled environment. It’s run by professionals who have done 25 years plus of doing these kinds of events and controlling that kind of area.”

Nishoka added that the event would not stop or block access to the beach, nor close roads for extended periods of time, as the block party did.Related Story: City to consider proposal that would allow alcohol at popular Waikiki beach park

Many say they aren’t happy with the idea.

“By changing the rules and doing special considerations to others that do not live here their entire lives, or during the year, is unfair to see that they are allowed to be able to showcase their private parties and by invitation only,” said Mela Kealoha-Lindsey, Creations of Hawaii. “We feel that this wouldn’t really benefit our local residents. It may the tourist industry, but that’s why we have various hotels in Waikiki that can support these wonderful events with alcohol and food.”

“Kapiolani Park is stressed. It’s stressed now. We have a lot of people, we have a lot of cars, we have a lot of stuff going on,” said real estate expert Stephany Sofos. “We have a hundred acres. Your staff cannot take care of the garbage, they can’t cut the grass, they are inundated with so many people at all times of the day, and when you put another 5,000 people in alcoholic situations, and we all know — I drink, maybe you do too — sometimes things get out of hand. Police are stressed. They have the homeless to deal with, they have the vandalism, they have constant problems, and we cannot control this.”

Others said they support the proposal.

“If I put a beach volleyball event on and Bruno Mars wanted to come to my tournament, or come to our event. Let’s say The Rock. Marcus Mariota. Some famous Hawaii names. They would be surrounded and mobbed by people wanting autographs. It wouldn’t make a good event for them to come to, and they wouldn’t come,” said Kawika Freitas, Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association. “But if they’re able to put an area, a VIP area, where they’re able to go into, relax and come out to see the event, but they’re able to get some space, some distance, I think it would be a good thing.”

Friday’s meeting was meant to gather public testimony and no decision was made.

The Pro Bowl takes place on Jan. 31 at Aloha Stadium.


§19-12-6 Regulations governing the service, consumption and possession of intoxicating liquor.

(c) Intoxicating liquor may be served, possessed and consumed within the designated park area within Kapiolani Beach Park commonly known as “Queen’s Beach” with an ewa boundary that begins at the Diamond head side of the Kapahulu groin located at the end of Kapahulu Avenue, along a mauka boundary along Kalakaua Avenue, and ends in the area approximately 120 yards Diamond head of the Kapahulu Groin.

(d) Permittee shall designate a service area within the designated park area for the service, consumption and possession of intoxicating liquor.

(e) Access to the service area shall be by invitation only. The service area shall not be open to the public.

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