HONOLULU (KHON2) — An announcement on building the new Aloha Stadium could come next week, but time is of the essence as a shift in college football weighs on the future of the University of Hawaii’s athletics department.
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UH tells KHON2 that it makes about $3,000,000 from deals with Spectrum and the Mountain West Conference, but that’s small change compared to the B1G, where the conference is rumored to be negotiating a deal that’s worth $100,000,000 per school per year. Last week USC and UCLA announced they were joining the B1G, leaving a big hole in their current home, the Pac-12.
“Where does that leave UH?” Asked former University of Hawaii regent Jeff Portnoy. “I think it leaves UH with whatever conference will take them up just being totally candid.”
Moving to a bigger conference with more money-making potential is a long way off for UH, mainly because of their home turf, but also because of the media market Hawaii resides in and geographical challenges.
Hawaii is playing at the 9,000-seat Ching Athletics Complex. Athletic Director David Matlin has told KHON2 that UH has had to push back the expansion of the stadium to the 2023 season due to supply chain issues.
“They gotta get to 15,000 by 2023 season, or I think they’ll hear from the NCAA about where they belong,” Portnoy said.
The New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District has yet to break ground. The original opening date was supposed to be the kick-off to the 2023 season. The request for proposals to developers should go out when Governor Ige signs the state budget into law. The deadline there is the 12th.
“Within that bill is $400 million to get the stadium project going from there is going to be on the Governor signing off on the RFP the request for proposal,” State Senator Glenn Wakai said. “We have three finalists waiting in the wings and eager to put in their bid.”
According to Wakai, the hope is a finalist is selected in early 2023, who will demolish the stadium soon after. NASED lists development targeted in 2023. Wakai says opening could come in late 2025 or 2026.
Portnoy wants the state to help UH make itself as attractive as possible to conference suitors, but he and Wakai both don’t see Hawaii making it to the cash cow that’s setting up in the top levels of college football.
“If it ends up being the Pac-4 they’re going to need to add some teams, could Hawaii make a play for that in 2025 and out, at this point, no but if we get a stadium I think that only helps in the argument to invite us,” Wakai said.
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“Is it Division I football as we know it? I doubt it because I think Division I one is going to be 60 schools and we’re not going to be one of them. We just can’t be,” Portnoy said.