HONOLUU (KHON2) — News of Aloha Stadium shutting down raises the same concerns about another special events facility that could suffer the same fate. The Blaisdell Center is even older than the stadium, and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says the city has to avoid the same mistakes that the state made with the stadium.
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Built in 1964, the city-owned Blaisdell Center is 11 years older than Aloha Stadium.
Mayor Caldwell says the problems at both venues are eerily similar.
“We know that shows are turning us down because it’s just not up to snuff, it doesn’t have the right standards. But things are really falling apart and it’s costing a lot more just to keep it operating and being the same,” said Caldwell.
Another big event — the U.S. Women’s Soccer exhibition match in 2015 — was cancelled at Aloha Stadium after complaints surfaced that the turf was unsafe. The turf has since been fixed and the state has put in tens of millions of dollars to the place playfully referred to as a “rust bucket.”
Caldwell had proposed rebuilding the Blaisdell, but the cost was more than $700 million. The city council decided to approve $43.6 million for repairs and maintenance instead.
“It will look no different. The restrooms may look nicer, but it’s a center built 56 years ago that really needs to be rebuilt for the next 50 years,” he said.
The mayor says he does not see the Blaisdell shutting down anytime soon, but cannot help but see similarities to Aloha Stadium.
“So we’re gonna see the same type of problems we’re seeing at the stadium at Blaisdell in the coming years. But we’re not ready to say it cannot be used. And this $43.6 million will add life to it just like the stadium had life added to it. But at some point you run out of life,” said Caldwell.
He says he has already talked to mayor-elect Rick Blangiardi about the problem with the hope that he is able to find a way to rebuild the facility that — like Aloha Stadium — is a place where lifetime memories are made and significant events are held.
“All of us have gone there, we call it where dreams are made. You went there for your first concert, you went there for your graduation. I went there to take the bar, we went there for Made in Hawaii,” said Caldwell.