Gov. Ige casts doubt on new Aloha Stadium with comments

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The future of Aloha Stadium might again be in limbo.

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Governor David Ige declared Tuesday at his press conference that he’d prefer the state put money into the upkeep of the current stadium. Opponents are concerned about the safety and economic viability of the current stadium, as well as the toll it could take on the economy.

The NASED would be built with a $350 million bond that the state takes out for a capital improvement project but Ige says that it would be too expensive.

“It’s just the total cost of a replacement that’s really hard to fit into the budget based on all of the construction needs that we have,” Gov. Ige said.

State Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Donovan Dela Cruz thinks the public-private partnership would solve those budget concerns.

“By having the stadium create its own revenue and not take any of the general fund money, then you’re actually going to be able to use that money that is used to maintain the stadium for other departments,” Sen. Dela Cruz said. “But you have to have the entertainment district set up correctly so that it becomes profitable and revenue generating.”

Sen. Dela Cruz believes that the economic windfall from construction of NASED is needed with tourism lagging due to COVID-19.

“If we don’t do infrastructure and have an environment where we can have a new construction, that’s only going to slow down the economy even further,” Sen. Dela Cruz said. “We need to prop it up.”

Aloha Stadium says an assessment would need to be made in order to find out what repairs would be necessary in order to bring fans back safely. The cost of repairs are unknown, depending on what the Governor wants.

“My understanding is that the stadium is structurally sound,” Governor Ige said.

Rich Miano organized the last event held at the current Aloha Stadium which was the Hula Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 31 with no fans in the stands.

“When you walk from concourse to concourse, you’re just praying that there’s not something catastrophic that happens,” Miano said. “I think Scott Chan,and the stadium people have done a phenomenal job but I don’t think $30 or $40 million a year on just maintenance and upkeep to try to keep it safe is money well spent.”

Miano is in favor of the public-private partnership for revenue.

“I’ve seen LA Live,” Miano said. “I’ve seen the O2 in London. I’ve seen some of these great entertainment complexes throughout the world. Usually it’s a private public partnership. I think if you get the right private developer with retail with residential with the entertainment aspect, potentially even a hotel there. There’s so much revenue that could be generated. That this should not be a $350 million cost to the taxpayer that could be amortized over the next 20 to 30 years. Or it could potentially be a free venue, based upon the private public partnership.”

The NASED says that the Governor’s comments should be the final word. The next step in their plan is a request for proposal by the middle of the year, with a targeted completion date for late 2023.

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