Plans towards building the new Aloha Stadium became official on Thursday, when Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed off on a $400 million NASED (New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District) budget.
Of the $400 million, $350 million is through the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), while the other $50 million comes from the Stadium Development Special Fund to cover expenses for “operations, maintenance and contract costs to developers of the stadium,” according to a media release.
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The current goal is for a new developer to be officially selected in the third quarter of 2023, with demolition of present-day Aloha Stadium taking place in late 2023 or early 2024.
A realistic goal for the completion of the new stadium is the end of 2025, in which case the stadium would be ready for the 2026 college and high school football season.
On Thursday, KHON2 spoke to University of Hawaii president David Lassner, Ige, and former UH football associate head coach and current Spectrum color analyst Rich Miano about the prospects of the new stadium, which is expected to have a seating capacity in the 30,000 to 35,000 range. All three expressed optimism, as well as a desire to see the project come to fruition.
Lassner believes when it comes to the new stadium, UH will have more involvement this time around.
“Our excitement is to get a great new stadium built and to have a new business deal that really works well for UH Athletics,” Lassner said. “Football is the program that generates most of the revenue that supports all of the other sports and with that money in hand, we can start to make a very specific plan to develop a great new stadium and give the Rainbow Warriors a great place to play.
“We just want to make sure that we have the right level of input into the project and it has a new structure now with the Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED). The Stadium Authority was also, I believe, moved to DBED, so that’s our new partners that we’ll work with to get a great stadium to support Warrior football.”
Added Ige: “I’m excited as a graduate of the University of Hawaii and a proud fan. I’m really excited because it is for the first time, the legislature embracing the full cost of the stadium and it will create a great, terrific home for the Rainbow Warriors.
“The funds have been appropriated to the Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism. We’re going to go through the process and work with the University and figure out what’s the next step forward. We are anxious to be able to commit to build a stadium as quickly as possible and we now have the resources for the first time.
“Stay tuned, we will be making announcements as we proceed through the process. We are hopeful to be able to move the project forward. We do have an environmental impact statement that is being finalized as we speak and we certainly look forward to the procurement process where we can get a provider online that will build the stadium and give us a permanent home for the Rainbow Warriors.”
As promising as the progress towards a new stadium in Halawa may sound, Miano shares the sentiments of many UH fans: He’s ready to see the concept become a reality.
“I think it’s huge for anybody that is obviously involved in University of Hawaii and any of the players, past players and anybody that cares about Division I athletics. I think this is monumental and although you want to pick the right developer and although you want to make sure that this thing is funded properly and it’s done correctly,” Miano said, “it’s so important that they do get started.”